This sector is considered of strategic importance to the European economy, with around 25 billion U. S. dollars of revenue and more than 72 thousand employees. Over the last few years, the biotechnology sector became one of the most innovative industries in the European Union, with almost 80 thousand patent applications registered in 2014. However, because of the extremely high research and development costs, many European biotechnology companies must partner with larger firms to complete the development of their products and patents.
The use of biotechnology in agriculture, food production and medicine is also a widely discussed topic due to its effects on the environment and human health. Some of the most pressing ethical issues regarding this industry are, for example, the use of humans in clinical trials, genetically modified crops, genetic engineering, animal testing, bioterrorism and stem cell research.