European parliament tackles biotechnology

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 19 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:964

Eighteen months ago the European Parliament showed in no uncertain terms that it could actually determine whether unionwide legislation should exist or not. The flexing of MEPs' muscles was not widely noticed, but it had a major impact on the pharmaceutical industry and medical research.

The parliament used recently granted powers to reject draft rules that would have provided legal protection in the union for biotechnological inventions. At that time the debate was between those arguing against the patenting of life and those maintaining that patent protection was essential to encourage industry to invest in developing new products. The debate is set to reopen this autumn and, while some of the arguments will be familiar, it may well take a different course this …

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