The place of biotechnologies in France and in Europe
Jean-Yves Le Déaut in his latest report, following on from his 1998 report dedicated to the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and food products, reviews the potential offered by biotechnologies when applied in other areas, the means of their dissemination, the economic stakes involved and the constraints hindering their development. By comparison with systems implemented in other countries, he identifies the levers for the development of biotechnologies, which require a high level of funding and the involvement of all the players in the sector, not only universities and research bodies but also industrial groups and medium and small enterprises which must give each other reciprocal support. The verdict is unmistakable: France and Europe are falling behind. Our country is having difficulty in keeping up with other countries, particularly the United States, in the areas of public and private research, innovation and company creation. This gap must be closed. Biotechnologies, developed as a result of the incredible advances achieved in the life sciences, are key technologies. Jean-Yves Le Déaut believes that, putting aside the risks that are often cited as a hindrance to their development, biotechnologies can in fact improve our living conditions and constitute a development tool for countries in southern regions of the globe. Through the scientific and technological advances achieved over the last few years, numerous benefits that this report attempts to identify can be perceived: the improvement of basic knowledge, creation of substances of interest to medicine, development of new therapies, detection and diagnosis, reduction in the pollution caused by pesticides, increase in yields to meet food needs, improvement of the nutritional quality of products, reduction in the consumption of raw materials and energy, waste treatment and depollution. The very high industrial stakes involved, in a context where a series of mergers has taken place, should also not be under-estimated, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector which, according to Jean-Yves Le Déaut, is in the throes of a real "crisis". To break the "downward spiral", the existing industrial fabric should be given support and innovation must be encouraged. The impact that the regulations have must also not be neglected and the situation must be avoided where a new form of competition having its roots in the regulations becomes prevalent. These issues essentially must be handled at European level. Jean-Yves Le Déaut addresses the sensitive issue of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, which he maintains illustrates the crisis that biotechnologies are experiencing in France and Europe, and emphasises that it is paramount for the dialogue to be renewed between experts, scientists and citizens. The way to recovery will require a more sustained involvement of the State, to take care of the funding crisis experienced by the life sciences and biotechnologies in France, and better use made of the results of public research. A guaranteed status and a decent remuneration for young researchers is the first measure that needs to be applied. 15 recommendations containing 73 proposals have been made.
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Biotechnology, Environment, Environmental technology, Ethics, Expert-based, Health, Innovation, Medical technology, Parliament involvement, Risk, Sustainability
Project leader:
Office Parlementaire d´Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques of the French Parliament (OPECST)