GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Date:    Mon, 10 Feb 97 15:20:58 -0800 
From:    IATP <iatp@igc.apc.org>
To:      Recipients of conference <env.biotech@conf.igc.apc.org>
Subject: IP/Biodiversity News February 5, 199

Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News
February 5, 1997
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Volume 6, No. 2
_______________________________________
Headlines
- - FRANCE REQUIRES LABELING TO MARKET GENETICALLY ALTERED CORN 
IMPORTS
- - SWISS GROCERS TO LABEL GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD SHELVES
- - UK SUPERMARKETS BAN UNLABELLED GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS 
- - UK APPROVES GENETICALLY ENGINEERED OILSEED SALE  
- - MONSANTO TO RESEARCH WEEDS RESISTANT TO ROUNDUP 
- - MONSANTO BUYS HOLDEN'S TO SUPPLY 35% OF CORN SEED IN U.S. 
- - GENETICALLY ALTERED FOODS POSE POSSIBLE ALLERGIC REACTIONS 
- - TRANSGENIC WHEAT PATENT APPROVED 
- - INDIA STOPS GENETICALLY ALTERED CROP 
________________________________________
FRANCE REQUIRES LABELING TO MARKET GENETICALLY ALTERED CORN IMPORTS

A regulation published in the Official Journal on February 2 
cited mandatory labeling of gene-altered organisms and derived 
products. According to a farm ministry official, it is expected 
that France will authorize the marketing of 
genetically-modified maize as early as this week. The comment 
from the ministry official followed a statement by the Ministry 
that a regulation authorizing the marketing would be published 
in the Official Journal soon. The statement did specify that 
the marketing authorization would apply only to "the import of 
maize and derived products," and not yet to the cultivation of 
gene-altered maize. French farmers will not be authorized to 
grow genetically engineered maize until it is listed in the 
"official register of species and plants grown in France."

REUTERS, February 3, 1997.

SWISS GROCERS TO LABEL GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD SHELVES

The Swiss cabinet agreed to allow companies more time to put 
special labels on food containing genetically engineered 
soybeans. The food was allowed to go on sale on February 1, but 
special labels are not required until December 31 The Federal 
Council approved an interim measure that allows advisories to 
appear on signs or placards on shop shelves near the products. 
The food will be identified as "GVO products," using the German 
acronym for genetically altered organism. The Ministry said, 
"The interim rule allows consumers to be informed 
comprehensively on the one hand without on the other hand 
forcing existing packaging material to be destroyed." A number 
of Swiss stores have refused to stock the new food stating that 
consumers do not want it.

"Swiss G-E Food Labeling," REUTERS, January 15, 1997.

UK SUPERMARKETS BAN UNLABELLED GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

Unlabelled genetically engineered foods will be banned by two 
British supermarkets, Asda, and Iceland which has 770 stores in 
Britain. Chairman of Iceland, Malcolm Walker, said, "if we can 
identify it as containing genetically modified produce, we will 
not sell it. Millions of ordinary people are very worried about 
genetically engineered food and I am one of them."  Michael 
Antoniou, a senior lecturer in molecular biology at a London 
hospital indicated there were risks that "could give rise to 
the unwitting spread of new poisons, new allergies and even a 
reduction in a food's nutritional value. There is no practical 
argument against full-disclosure labelling."

"Frankenstein Food Faces Supermarket Ban: British Chains Reject 
Genetically Modified Goods," THE SPECTATOR, January 27, 1997.

UK APPROVES GENETICALLY ENGINEERED OILSEED SALE

The sale of genetically engineered oilseed used in some 
imported margarines, shortening and cooking oils was approved 
by the U.K. government, based on a recommendation by the 
Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. The Advisory 
Committee encouraged voluntary labeling, although no special 
labeling is required. The American-grown seed is genetically 
engineered to be resistant to a herbicide, bromoxynil.

"Gene Change Oilseed Gets Go-Ahead," AGNET, January 29, 1997.

MONSANTO TO RESEARCH WEEDS RESISTANT TO ROUNDUP

An Australian university, Charles Sturt University,  has 
entered into a three-year contract with Monsanto to determine 
whether a a rye grass weed has developed resistance to 
Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Jim Pratley, Director of the 
university's Farrer Centre for Conservation Farming has been 
given ryegrass seeds from a farmer who indicated that he 
couldn't kill the ryegrass weed with Roundup.

"Herbicide is to be Retested," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, January 31, 
1997.

MONSANTO BUYS HOLDEN'S TO SUPPLY 35% OF CORN SEED IN U.S.

In early January, Monsanto bought Holden's Foundation Seeds 
Inc., which supplies the germplasm and parent seeds for more 
than 35% of the corn acres planted in the U.S., for $1.02 
billion. Such a high price had "very little to do with Holden 
as a seed company," said an advisory report of the investment 
banking firm Dain Bosworth, "and a lot to do with the battle 
between the chemical giants for future sales of herbicides and 
insecticides... tying up germplasm so that it works only with 
your chemical products." 

AgrEvo, Monsanto's main competitor, recently bought Plant 
Genetic Systems for $750 million. AgrEvo is about to market a 
genetically engineered seed that is tolerant to its own brand 
of herbicide, Liberty.

In the first nine months of 1996, Monsanto's worldwide 
agrochemical sales increased by 21% to $2.48 billion, due 
largely to increased sales of Roundup. The patent for Roundup, 
which accounts for 17% of Monsanto's annual sales of $8.6 
billion, will expire in 2000. Sales of Monsanto's new 
Roundup-Ready Soybeans require growers to sign a contract 
prohibiting them from using any herbicide other than Roundup 
and to allow Monsanto's agents to randomly inspect their fields 
for three years.

"Monsanto Will Buy Holden's, Seed Firms," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 
January 7, 1997; "Monsanto Agrees to Change Ads," AGNET, 
January 12, 1997; "No Way Around Roundup," MOTHER JONES, 
January - February 1997; "Analysis of Monsanto Soybean 
Contract," FARMER'S LEGAL ACTION GROUP, February 5, 1997; "Seed 
Industry Overview," DAIN BOSWORTH INDUSTRY REPORT, December 2, 
1996.

GENETICALLY ALTERED FOODS POSE POSSIBLE ALLERGIC REACTIONS 

The development of genetically altered food crops presents a 
health concern related to the inadvertent expression of a 
protein that causes an allergic reaction in individuals. 
Testing genetically altered plants that have suspected 
allergens can be done using an IgE test with serum from 
individuals with an allergy. However, there are cases in which 
genes cloned from sources that are not known to be allergenic 
are being introduced into plants. 

Allegenic proteins often share similar properties such as 
resistance to enxymatic and acid degradation or heat stability. 
Monsanto researchers have developed an assay to evaluate the 
allergenicity of proteins. The assay is based on the assumption 
that stability to digestion is a general property of allergenic 
proteins. The researchers tested the digestive stability of 16 
major peanut, soybean, mustard, egg and milk allergins to a 
simulated gastric fluid (SGF) containing the protease pepsin. 
Purified allergins such as egg ovalbumin or milk 
beta-lactoglobulin were stable in SGF for 60 minutes, but 
common plant proteins such as spinach ribulose bis phosphate 
carboxylase or phosphofructokinase were digested in 15 seconds. 

The stability of the test proteins to SGF was  unchanged when 
assayed in the presence of a typical food matrix such as crude 
soybean extract. The results demonstrate that stability of a 
whole protein or protein fragments to SGF digestion is an 
acceptable method for assessing the potential allergenicity of 
a protein.

"Potential Allergenicity of Transgenic Foods," AGNET, February 
2, 1997.

TRANSGENIC WHEAT PATENT APPROVED

Novartis Corporation received a U.S. patent for genetically 
engineered wheat on January 21. The patent includes technology 
to insert genetic traits into wheat such as disease and insect 
resistance. Patent 5,596,131 is the first patent on genetically 
altered wheat. Novartis plans to license the intellectual 
property rights on a broad scale. The patent was issued on 
technology research conducted by Ciba Seeds. Ciba Seeds and 
Northrup King merged on January 1, 1997 to form the new 
Novartis Seeds, Inc. 

"Novartis Corporation Receives Patent for Transgenic Wheat," 
PRNEWSWIRE, January 22, 1997.

INDIA STOPS GENETICALLY ALTERED CROP

The Agricultural Research Institute was forced to destroy a 
test field of eggplant that had been genetically engineered for 
insect resistance. The researchers did not have permission to 
grow the genetically altered crop, and could face fines and 
prison terms under India's Environmental Protection Act.

"Bitter Fruit," WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 4, 1997.

RESOURCES

"Bija: The Seed," a quarterly monitor on biodiversity, 
biotechnology and intellectual property rights; Research 
Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy, 
A 60 Hauz Khas, New Dehli 110016.

Otto H. Frankel, Anthony H.D. Brown and Jeremy J. Burdon, "The 
Conservation of Plant Biodiversity," discusses the preservation 
of individual species, the drive for increasing agricultural 
productivity, and the design and management of reserves; 
Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 
10011-4211.

EVENTS

"Innovations in Food and Agriculture: Are Consumers Leading or 
Being Led?" March 13-14, 1997, Washington, DC. Contact: 20th 
National Food Policy Conference, Public Voice for Food and 
Health Policy, 1101 14th Street, NW, Suite 710, Washington, DC 
20005; fax: 202-371-1910.

Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News, Vol. 6, No. 
2		        Page 2

Produced by The Institute For Agriculture and Trade Policy, 
Mark Ritchie, President.  Editor: Jean Carruthers.  Email 
versions are available free of charge from Econet or IATPnet 
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publication citing material from this bulletin is appreciated.  
For information about IATP's contract research services, 
contact Dale Wiehoff at IATP, 612.870.3401 (direct line) or 
email at dwiehoff@iatp.org.





Date:    Mon, 10 Feb 97 15:20:58 -0800 
From:    IATP <iatp@igc.apc.org>To:      Recipients of conference <env.biotech@
	  conf.igc.apc.org>Subject: IP/Biodiversity News February 5, 199

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