GENTECH archive 8.96-97


more GE food, and the Bt patent fight

Here are a couple of articles I thought this group might be interested 
in - the scope of GE'ed foods and the patent circus.  Their positive 
tone is not mine.  


>               ***************************************
>Spring is here and it s time to plant. In addition to the hundreds of
>field tests that will be conducted under notification, permits have
>been issued or are pending for dozens of transgenic crops listed
>[Abbreviations: BNYVV, beet necrotic yellow vein virus; CMV, cucumber
>mosaic virus; LMV, lettuce mosaic virus; PLRV, potato leaf roll
>virus; PRSV, papaya ringspot virus; PVY, potato virus Y; SqMV, squash
>mosaic virus; SrMV, sugarcane mosaic virus; TEV, tobacco etch virus;
>TMV, tobacco mosaic virus; ToMoV, tomato mottle virus; TSWV, tomato
>spotted wilt virus; WMV2, watermelon mosaic virus 2; ZYMV, zucchini
>yellow mosaic virus.]
>apple resistant to lepidopteran pests (Dry Creek, renewal pending);
>having altered product quality (UC-Berkeley)
>barley engineered to produce a thermostable protein (Washington State
>University); expressing a marker gene (Coors, Brewing)
>beet with a coat protein gene conferring resistance to BNYVV
>(Betaseed); tolerant to phosphinothricin (AgrEvo; Betaseed);
>glyphosate tolerant (Hilleshog; Monsanto)
>belladonna carrying the hyoscamine 6 -hydroxylase gene for insect
>resistance (U of Chicago)
>creeping bentgrass modified with genes for Rhizoctonia solani and
>Sclerotinia resistance or phosphinothricin herbicide tolerance
>(Rutgers U)
>chestnut trees resistant to chestnut blight (Connecticut Ag
>Experiment Station)
>cucumber with either coat proteins or unnamed genes for resistance to
>CMV, PRSV, WMV2, and ZYMV (Seminis Vegetable Seeds)
>eggplant engineered with a Bt CryIIIA gene for Colorado potato beetle
>resistance (Rutgers U)
>grape resistant to Lepidopteran pests and two species of nematodes
>(UC-Kearney); sulfonylurea herbicide tolerant (DNA Plant Technology)
>lettuce with coat protein for resistance to LMV (Seminis Vegetable
>melon carrying coat protein genes for resistance to CMV, PRSV, SqMV,
>WMV2, and ZYMV (Seminis Vegetable Seeds); resistant to CMV, WMV2, and
>ZYMV (Harris Moran)
>peanut resistant to lesser cornstalk borer, thanks to a CryIA(c) gene
>(U of Georgia)
>petunia with a product quality gene deemed confidential business
>information (Monsanto, pending)
>pepper resistant to CMV and TEV (Seminis Vegetable Seeds); fruit
>ripening altered (DNA Plant Technology)
>potato engineered for Coleopteran insect and PLRV resistance, with or
>without PVY resistance (Monsanto); PLRV and PVY resistant (U of
>rapeseed resistant to post-harvest fungal disease or with increased
>lysine level or with altered oil quality (Cargill); lepidopteran
>resistant (U of Chicago); herbicide tolerant (AgrEvo)
>rice made tolerant to imidazolinone (American Cyanamid) or
>phosphinothricin (AgrEvo; Louisiana State U); producing
>pharmaceutical proteins (Applied Phytologics)
>squash resistant to CMV, PRSV, SqMV, WMV2, and sometimes ZYMV
>(Seminis Vegetable Seeds)
>strawberry with delayed ripening and resistance to Botrytis,
>Sclerotinia, and Verticillium mediated by chitinase, glucanase, and
>polygalacturonase inhibitor protein (DNA Plant Technology); resistant
>to Botrytis, Colletotrichum, Phytophthora, and Pythium and 2,4-D
>tolerant (Plant Science Research); with unnamed genes for altered
>ripening and fungus resistance (Calgene)
>sugarcane coat protein modified to resist  SrMV (Texas A&M)
>sunflowers resistant to CMV and TMV (Pioneer)
>tobacco producing pharmaceutical proteins or with unspecified traits
>conferred by genes deemed confidential business information
>tobacco mosaic virus engineered to produce pharmaceutical proteins
>tomato modified for delayed ripening and increased solids (Zeneca);
>resistant to geminivirus (Seminis Vegetable Seeds); resistant to TSWV
>(Rogers); resistant to ToMoV (U of Florida)
>watermelon engineered for resistance to CMV, PRSV, WMV2, and ZYMV
>(Seminis Vegetable Seeds)
>wheat engineered with an unnamed gene for Fusarium resistance or
>herbicide tolerance (Monsanto)
>Pat Traynor
>Information Systems for Biotechnology
>               ***************************************
>A recent (1/23/97) press release headline states,  Mycogen
>Corporation has filed suit in Federal Court here [San Diego],
>claiming that a new bioinsecticide developed by Ecogen Inc. infringes
>Mycogen patents covering Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) gene
>technology.  There have been so many lawsuits in recent years over
>claimed infringements relating to Bt that even industry insiders who
>keep a close watch on these activities have a hard time keeping
>track of who is suing whom. It s not just the Bt genes themselves,
>but every aspect of the technology relating to Bt genes, including
>the promoters, selectable markers, full-length versus truncated and
>synthetic versions, transformation methods, etc. The following table
>which lists recent suits is incomplete, but it provides a sense of
>the intensity of the battle over the patent claims relating to Bt.
>The fact that litigation is extremely expensive and time consuming
>suggests that the stakes are high for the participants.
>               [Table best viewed in Courier 10 font]
> 				Companies Involved in Bt Litigation
>    Date     Plaintiff  Defendants      Area of Patent Coverage
> ----------|----------|---------------|---------------------------
>  Jan.'97    Novartis   Monsanto,       Method of protecting corn
>                        DeKalb,         against insects, including Bt
>                        Pioneer         protein ingestion by corn 
>  Oct.'96    Mycogen    Monsanto,       1)Modification of Bt genes for
>                        DeKalb             plant expression
>                                        2)Introduction of genes into 
>                                        3)Plants and seeds from cells
>                                           transformed with Bt genes
>  Aug.'96    PGS        Mycogen,        Bt expressed in plants
>                        Ciba
>  Jul.'96    DeKalb     Beck's          Intent to sell Bt corn hybrids
>                        Hybrids,
>                        Countrymark
>  June '96   DeKalb     Northrup King   Bt insect resistance and
>  Apr. '96              Pioneer,           glufosinate tolerance using
>                        Ciba, Mycogen      ballistic transformation 
>  Mar.'96    Monsanto   Mycogen,        Modified Bt DNA sequence to
>                        Ciba               make plants more insect 
>  Oct.'95    PGS        Mycogen,        Protection of plants containing
>                        Ciba                truncated Bt genes
>  May '95    Mycogen    Monsanto        Process to synthesize Bt genes
> ----------|----------|---------------|--------------------------
>These disputes are to be settled in court. Why can t the companies
>sit down at a table and find an amicable solution? Depending on who
>you ask, the following answers are given:
> These disputes reflect the novelty of this technology to the
>  seed industry. The situation is reminiscent of the learning
>  process which the chemical and pharmaceutical industries went
>  through in past years.
> There is much at stake financially because the new technology
>  generates a lot of added value and all the players believe they
>  are entitled to a big piece.
> Extended litigation saps the financial resources of weaker
>  companies, assisting in further consolidation of agbiotech
>  companies, to the advantage of the financially stronger
>  companies even though their patent claims might be weaker.
> There is a lot of pressure on companies to maintain their stock
>  value which is partially based on claimed property rights.
> Some of the players have big egos. Monsanto's CEO Robert Shapiro
>   will kick butt in the marketplace  in order to  get
>  environmentally better products that people want to market
>  faster at lower costs  (Fortune 4/16/96, p116).
>The good news is that, in spite of the litigation, corn, cotton, and
>potato modified with the Bt gene technology are being aggressively
>commercialized. Several companies have already brought products into
>the market place. There are many examples of research collaborations
>and licensing agreements which allow other interested parties access
>to the patented materials. DeKalb, for example, recently announced
>that  Monsanto s acquisition of Holden s Foundation Seeds will have
>no impact on the long-term research collaboration or the cross-
>licensing agreements that DeKalb and Monsanto entered into a year
>On the negative side, farmers, who will benefit from the new
>technology through reduced pesticide use and increased yield, will
>likely pay the price of the lawsuits in the cost of the value-added
>seed. Another negative impact, according to Brent McCown (University
>of Wisconsin), is that commercialization of genetically modified
>minor crops has been prevented or delayed due to conflicts over
>proprietary rights. For example, commercialization of Bt-cranberry
>has been put on hold until some of the Bt patent issues are settled.
>The small cranberry industry is not willing to commit the necessary
>resources - time and money for lawyers - to pursue the necessary
>agreements in the uncertain environment created by the numerous
>Jan Klein
>               ***************************************
Janelle L. Kennard
CRC for Plant Science
PO Box 475
Australian National University.
Canberra  ACT 2601

Phone (06) 249 2878