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Commission modifies proposal for protection of biotechnological inventions

The European Commission has adopted a modified proposal for a Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions, in response to the European Parliament's opinion of 16 July 1997. In its modified proposal, the Commission has taken on board 65 of the 66 amendment...

The European Commission has adopted a modified proposal for a Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions, in response to the European Parliament's opinion of 16 July 1997. In its modified proposal, the Commission has taken on board 65 of the 66 amendments adopted by the Parliament. In particular, these relate to the ethical dimension of biotechnological inventions. Human cloning is now explicitly prohibited, as is any intervention in the genetic identity of the foetus. An independent committee will be established to evaluate the ethical aspects of biotechnology. Commissioner Mario Monti, responsible for the Single Market, stated that the balance between the need to take account of the ethical aspects for protection of the human body, and the economic imperative of ensuring the realization of the Single Market is achieved, had been found. The Parliament, while recognizing the patentability of elements isolated from the human body, had contributed to increasing the emphasis on the ethical dimensions, he noted. The one amendment not accepted by the Commission aimed to use the patent system to organize a system of proof, such that inventions of human, animal or vegetable origin would have to demonstrate that elements had been taken with the consent of the person of origin or in respect of legislation on point of origin. The Commission notes that this would be contrary to data protection legislation and would go outside the Community's international commitments stemming from the Rio Convention on genetic diversity. The Commission's modified proposal will now be considered by the Council. The Commission hopes that the Council will adopt its common position in November 1997, in view of the fact that the proposal is one of the four priorities identified in the recent Single Market Action Plan.

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