BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union rules on clinical trials for new medicines - with their additional constraints on biotechnology products - have at last been formalized, some four months after European Union ministers and parliamentarians agreed on the final details.

Bearing the date of April 4, 2001, the definitive text has appeared in the EU's official journal of May 3. The 15 EU member states are required to adopt and publish legislation complying with the directive before May 1, 2003, and to apply it no later than May 1, 2004.

Estonian Gene Pool Raising Money

The Estonian Gene Pool, the foundation to promote research into human genes, has set up a commercial undertaking to raise funds for its operations and to bring in private investors. According to the foundation's chairman, Toomas Vilosius, as investors are found, the foundation's holding in the commercial undertaking would decline, but control would be maintained.

In the fall, the foundation wants to launch a gene pool pilot project, aimed at collecting within half a year blood tests of 10,000 residents along with their personal and medical data, with the assistance of 50 to 80 general practitioners. Foundation board member Andrus Metspalu said a number of companies have shown interest in financing the project.

UK Contributing To OECD Conference

The UK is claiming a crucial role in its support for biotechnology with its contribution to an upcoming conference on New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society, which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is planning for Bangkok, Thailand, July 10-12.

The conference, bringing in expertise from United Nations agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, will bring together representatives of government, civil society, industry, the scientific community and environmental and consumer groups to explore how scientific knowledge on the safety of genetically modified crop plants and foods is accessed and taken account of in international institutions.

The aim is an open dialogue in which different views will be presented, so that international biosafety activities incorporate the best scientific evidence and address public concerns. The results of the conference will be presented to the G-8 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Genoa, Italy, in July to support their discussions on biotechnology, and will feed into other major debates.

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