Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has called for Germany to take a flexible approach to genetic research to allow the country to remain competitive in international markets while respecting ethical limits.
In a column for the weekly Die Woche which appears Thursday, Schroeder wrote that excessive restrictions on genetic research would be irresponsible and illogical.
"Self-imposed restraints in Germany on the issue of licenses and use of research in the era of the common market and the Internet would only lead us to import what we have banned here but our neighbors have allowed," Schroeder said.
He added that Germany would "not only lose its link to the 21st century's leading and key technology" but also miss the chance "to have a competent say in the use and the consequences of these technologies."
He said Germany would continue to impose limits on genetic research that violated ethical codes such as human cloning and genetic selection, but would pursue medical advances that improve the quality of life.
On the controversy over "patenting human life", Schroeder said that biotechnology companies bore tremendous research and development costs and could only be profitable if they were assured "appropriate legal protection" for their work.
He said that such patents must respect "clear ethical boundaries" and must not apply to the stages of development of the human body or the discovery of individual genes.
Schroeder also called for a review of the 1990 German law on the protection of embryos in light of rapid advancements on their potential use in the development of medical treatments -- BERLIN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)