EU to fine France for lax security in biotech research

Published 7 February 2006

The EU has strict law governing biotech research, whether for biodefense or genetic modification of crops, and France has been in violation of these strictures

The European Commission is seeking to fine France more than $200,000 a day for failing to implement safety standards for biotech experiments. The case primarily involves research and industrial use of genetically modified viruses and bacteria. The EU’s executive agency told the EU’s high court that France had not adopted legislation the EU passed in 1990. The rules require member nations to set up emergency plans for dealing with accidents in biotech labs and inform emergency services about the hazards. Some scientists are concerned that without adequate controls, microscopic bugs engineered with novel genes taken from other species could get loose from laboratories and mix with naturally occurring species, creating combinations that could be lethal or unchecked by natural predators.