The European Commission wants to put a special focus on innovation, research, market development and the debate with society on ethical issues in the field of biotechnology. In a mid-term review of the Strategy on Life Sciences and Biotechnology 2002 – 2010, presented today by President Barroso and Commissioners Verheugen and Potocnik, a refocus of actions has been proposed to promote a competitive and sustainable European knowledge based Bio-Economy. Competitiveness can be ensured by the promotion of research and market development, innovation programmes, societal debates, sustainable development of agriculture and better implementation of legislation. Life sciences and biotechnology offer the prospects of new and renewable bio resources, lower energy and water consumption, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reduced dependence on petroleum. They also play a growing role in the discovery and development of new medicines, advanced therapies, diagnostics and vaccines. Biotechnology as a scientific technique has existed for more than 5000 years. It was first used in foodstuffs, such as bread, cheese, wine and beer. Modern applications of biotechnology include the production of enzymes, used in very practical day to day products like washing powder, or the creation of bio-plastics, which degrade considerably quicker than conventional plastics, thereby reducing waste. Biotechnology is also used to develop new life-saving medicines and medical devices. New applications are being developed all the time and Europe should be at the forefront of these developments.