At a special dinner event in Brussels on September 8, 2011, The Honorable Maroš Šefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration, Ambassador Richard Boucher, Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Robert-Jan Smits, Director General of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission addressed the vital need to continue investing in innovation during a time of economic crisis and budget constraints, as well as the ongoing institutional changes in Brussels and what they mean for doing business in Brussels.

On June 29, 2011, Stéphane Hogan, Head of Coordination Unit in Directorate Health of DG Research and Innovation and Giulia Del Brenna, Head of Unit for Food and Healthcare Industries, Biotechnology in DG Enterprise and Industry both of the European Commission, David Beier, Senior Vice President for Global Government and Corporate Affairs at Amgen, and Dr. Val Giddings, Senior Fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation addressed U.S. and EU approaches to spurring innovation in the biotechnology sector in a time of budgetary constraints and growing concerns over rising healthcare costs. The Honorable Bart Gordon, Partner at K&L Gates LLP and former Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, moderated the discussion.

The Obama administration is moving to expand and accelerate U.S. production of genetically engineered crops – a trend that is eventually liable to ratchet up transatlantic pressures over EU resistance to importing “GMO’s” for consumption by Europeans.

Read More

A number of recent articles in the European and American press have highlighted the grave concern in Europe about reports of imports and sales, without licensing or labeling, of meat and milk derived from clones. Whereas approval and labeling is necessary for the sale of the meat of clones, the European Commission has taken a very lax view on milk and meat from the offspring of clones. Several European countries are already importing clone semen and embryos. Switzerland has acknowledged that clone-derived products are sold there (that can be exported to the EU) and the British have discovered in their newspapers that they may be unknowingly eating clone-derived meat and milk. There is currently no system for tracing the origin of these products, informing consumers of the nature of what they are buying or indeed tracking clone offspring as they mix into the gene pool.

Read More

While the EU and the new U.S. Administration are trying to harmonize their views, trade in food and regulations regarding biotechnology remain among the most delicate areas in transatlantic trade negotiations, in part because of the different backgrounds on which public opinions are based. Dan Rotenberg, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the Delegation of the European Commission addressed  the status of the Doha Trade Talks in this sector. His colleague at the Delegation, Dr. Wolf-Martin Maier, Counselor for Food Safety, Health and Consumer Affairs addressed questions regarding food safety and consumer protection regulations.