09 September 2008 17:47 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s biotech crop and agricultural sector continues to be hampered by legal uncertainty from European and German law as well as arbitrary political decision-making and environmental activism, a chemical industry group said on Tuesday.
“We have not made any progress in plant and agricultural biotechnology,” said Bernward Garthoff, head of the biotech sector group of Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) in reviewing the year so far.
The number of crop chemical field trials had fallen to 38 so far this year, compared with 78 in 2007, partly due to activists destroying or occupying fields.
In the first half of 2008 alone activists destroyed 22 fields, forcing many universities and polytechnics to abandon trials, Garthoff said.
He called for changes to Germany’s “Gentechnikgesetz”, which regulates genetically modified (GM) crops. The law provides for a public register of biotech crop fields.
Garthoff also criticised proposals by the French government that threatened to shift more decision making on GM issues from the scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to EU member states.
It would be “fatal” for Europe as an industrial production site if safety evaluations of GM organisms were no longer based on strict, objective and scientific criteria, he said.
“We would like to see politicians to come out in support of science, instead of catering to fears in an attempt to win votes at the polls,” he added.
Garthoff contrasted the problems facing the biotech crop and agricultural sector with strong growth rates in Germany’s overall biotechnology industry.
More and more pharmaceuticals and chemical products were based on biotech, he said.
Some 5% of chemical products made in Germany were based on fermentation and bacteria technology, said Garthoff, who highlighted the growing role of biotech processes in using renewables to make chemicals.
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