Science Minister Warns Against EC Regulation

Sep 11, 2014

The recently appointed Secretary of State for Life Science has warned that European Commission (EC) regulation could hinder the UK’s technological development.

In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, George Freeman revealed he feels the EU is “interfering” and imposing “hostile” rules upon the country.

“There are a number of areas where the UK and NHS is pioneering but EU regulation is in danger of holding back biomedical advances: in regenerative medicine, stem cells, genetics and data,” the Minister claimed.

Freeman believes “increasingly unhelpful” red tape slows down medical trials and places Britain in the “global slow lane.”

“There are a whole series of directives which they are looking at which would basically risk making Europe, and therefore Britain in Europe, an increasingly unattractive place to do modern medicine and science and that would be a disaster for [the country] and NHS patients,” he claimed.

Last year, the EC decided to reform existing data protection legislation to allow people the right to know every time their records are accessed from medical databases.

“Regulation Threatens Specific Projects”

The Minister warns that this could damage key government initiatives such as the 100,000 Genomes Project that aims to map the genetic profile of thousands of rare disease by sequencing thousands of genomes.

According to Freeman, it may also impact upon the already-troubled scheme – an NHS England plan to move all patient records to a centralised database.

Under the revised regulations, researchers would need “specific, informed and explicit” consent every time they needed access to individual records.

“We need the EU to put in a place a supportive regulatory framework to maximise benefits for patients and taxpayers,” claimed Freeman.

“This is an area the UK leads and I will be reaching out to the European governments and to the commission to highlight the work Britain is doing to shape this new landscape,” he added.


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