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Germany's biotechnology industry takes off

The German government has just announced a $425 million, three-year genome research funding program. This type of government support, and the revision of federal laws are promoting a growth spurt in the German biotechnology industry.

John Borchardt (JKBdeinker@aol.com)

HOUSTON German political leaders pledged increased support for genome research last week. Edelgard Bulmahn, German minister for Education and Research said the government will devote 870 million marks ($425 million) to genome research over the next three years. This more than doubles the ministry's earlier four-year funding program announced in 2000.

After World War II, Germany's medical, pharmaceutical and genetic research industries were restricted by laws that made it difficult to set up new biotechnology laboratories or production plants. These laws did not change much until 1993. The Green Party has also been quite hostile to biotechnology for both pharmaceutical and agricultural applications. For example, in the late 1980s it opposed construction of a Bayer plant that would manufacture a genetically engineered protein for haemophiliacs. Bayer built the plant, which employs 1,300 people, in the US. Until the late 1990s, the climate for the biotechnology industry in Germany was such...

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