GENET archive


BUSINESS: Governor of Massachusetts (USA) wants to invest $1billion in biotech

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TITLE:  Patrick wants to invest $1 billion in biotech
SOURCE: The MetroWest Daily News, USA
AUTHOR: Greg Turner
DATE:   09.05.2007

Patrick wants to invest $1 billion in biotech

The buzz around biotech reached a peak yesterday when Gov. Deval Patrick
unveiled a plan for Massachusetts to invest $1 billion in life sciences
initiatives, including controversial stem-cell research, to help the
state attract business and add jobs.

Patrick's plan, designed to "fill gaps in federal funding," would
finance research grants, support laboratory improvements at public
colleges and establish a centralized stem-cell center that could be
tapped by scientists worldwide.

"We want Massachusetts to provide the global platform for bringing your
innovations from the drawing board to the market, from inspiration to
commercialization, from ideas to cures," Patrick told supporters at the
BIO International Convention in Boston.

The proposal, which requires legislative approval, drew support from
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray, who
attended Patrick's announcement, and other lawmakers.

"I'm totally in support of our state investing in this area," said state
Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, who sits on the Senate economic
development and emerging technologies committee. "I think this is where
a lot of growth would be in the country, and it would be nice to have
some of it here in this state."

Spilka, whose district is home to major Genzyme Corp. facilities, said
the state also needs to make sure it improves the "underlying
infrastructure of transportation, water and sewer" that companies
consider when expanding or relocating.

"We're beginning to lose some of these companies because of a lack of
funding in these areas," she said.

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis, speaking at the 128 Business Council's 20th
annual meeting yesterday in Waltham, said transportation and education
are important for biotech development.

"You've got to start with the fundamentals - our highways are in lousy
shape and our public transportation could be better," Dukakis said. "We
could always improve the school system. I think if we can do that
effectively, we'll have a vibrant and flourishing biotech industry
providing many, many jobs."

The state's life sciences industry employs about 74,000 people - or as
many as 200,000 if support services such as consultants and vendors are
included, according to Glen Comiso, director of life sciences for the
Westborough-based Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Comiso said
the state is currently expected to double that work force in 10 years
but could do even better with additional support.

"I think it's great to increase support for biotech. That is the current
engine of growth for out state," said Maureen Dunne of the MetroWest
Economic Research Center at Framingham State College, which has courses
for biotechnology careers.

The stem-cell bank - a $66 million investment - would be located at the
University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, the home of
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Craig Mello. Another $33 million
investment would support Mello's revolutionary gene research.

The stem-cell research plan drew immediate criticism. The Massachusetts
Citizens for Life, an organization that opposes abortion, was among the
critics of the governor's plan.

"The problem with embryonic stem-cell research is that it is destructive
to human life," Marie Sturgis, the group's executive director, said in a
statement. "Taxpayers should not be given a mandate to fund this
unethical form of research."

The research aims to use stem cells, which are created in the first days
after conception and can give rise to all the organs and tissues in the
body, to replace diseased tissue in hopes of treating a variety of
diseases, from Alzheimer's to diabetes.

But many social conservatives, including President Bush, oppose the work
because embryos are destroyed in the process. The microscopic embryos
are usually donated by fertility clinics.

The Bush administration has limited federal funding to about $25 million
annually on research into adult stem cells, though many scientists say
they lack the promise of embryonic stem cells.

Under Patrick's plan, Massachusetts would invest $100 million per year
over 10 years starting in July 2008. Half of the investment would come
from state-issued bonds, along with $250 million in research grants and
$250 million in tax benefits tied to job creation.

Kevin Hrusovsky, CEO of Caliper Life Sciences in Hopkinton, liked the
sound of Patrick's plan because his company sells products used for stem-
cell research. One of the tools, called IVIS, allows scientists to study
diseases by viewing glow-in-the-dark cells inside live, genetically
modified mice.

(Daily News staff writer Nicole Haley, Jon Chesto of the Patriot Ledger
and Ken Maguire of the Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  World Agricultural Congresss here calls for world cooperation
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA
AUTHOR: Tim Barker
DATE:   09.05.2007

World Agricultural Congresss here calls for world cooperation

International agriculture industry leaders laid out a rough framework
Tuesday in St. Louis for coping with the world's growing need for food.

Short on specifics but long on ideals, leaders talked about the need to
get world governments to work together to take advantage of scientific
advances, reduce trade barriers and tackle climate problems.

Several hundred attendees representing private industry, academia and
governments are gathered here through Thursday for the 2007 World
Agricultural Congress. The meeting is hosted by the World Agricultural
Forum, a St. Louis-based nonprofit.

The program Tuesday at the Chase Park Plaza hotel included speeches and
panel discussions on how to change the way the world's agriculture
industry works and how to improve conditions in poor countries.

One oft-repeated theme was the need to eliminate government-imposed
barriers to free trade.

"It's not the poor and impoverished that are holding back. No, it's the
big, powerful and rich nations that want to sustain their subsidies and
barriers," said James Bolger, chairman of the forum's advisory board and
former prime minister of New Zealand. "The world's patience is running
out. Those on the outside looking in want the door to fair trade open now."

Science also will play a critical role in keeping pace with the world's
appetite. But those advances must be used around the world, said Carl
Hausmann, president of St. Louis-based Bunge North America Inc., who
took a gentle poke at countries opposed to genetically modified plants,
calling them "stubborn Europeans."

"To meet the growing needs, we cannot do this with one hand tied behind
our back," Hausmann said.

While much of Tuesday's discussion focused on problems that aren't
exactly new, there was one fresh wrinkle: The booming U.S. ethanol
industry and the corn it is consuming.

John Gummer, the United Kingdom's former agriculture minister, said
events in this country are putting pressure on the world's agriculture market.

"The huge increase in subsidies for biofuels in the United States has,
of course, totally distorted the market worldwide in a way which none of
us could have expected," Gummer said.

One of the most immediate impacts has been a surge in the price of corn
-- an important feed product for companies like Tyson Foods Inc., the
world's largest processor of chicken.

"These cost increases have and will be passed through to consumers,"
said Rick Greubel, the company's international president.

Offering an example, he said the cost of boneless, skinless chicken
breast has increased more than 70 percent during the past seven months.

"Why is that important? Because the impact of these food price increases
is disproportionately greater outside the developed world," Greubel said.

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