The European Commission is concerned that diverging policies in member states could derail the European Union's Strategy for Life Sciences and Biotechnology. The concern is expressed in the Commission's first progress report since the policy guidelines and action plan that form the strategy were adopted in January 2002. The progress report, published March 5, is the first of many planned throughout the implementation of the strategy, which is scheduled to continue until 2010.

The report hailed the EU's regulatory framework for genetically modified organisms (GMO's), and the adoption of the Sixth Framework Research Programme (FP6), as plus points. But failure of member states to act on EU-wide regulatory developments was the key complaint. As an example, it cited the slowness of member states in adopting biotechnology patent legislation. Only six member states have transposed into national law the Commission's directive (Dir 98/44/EC) on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions....

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