SnowBall archive


GE - news bits march 4th

1) IQPC Annual Agricultural Biotechnology Conference 
2) New York Times -Could Monsanto's Special Culture Survive a Merger? 
3) Monsanto, DuPont decline comment on merger talks
4) The BBC web site has a special report on genetically-modified food, 
entitled "GM foods: Big promises, little profit" 
April 18-20, 1999 

1) IQPC Annual Agricultural Biotechnology Conference 
June 15-17, 1999 
San Diego, CA
The International Quality & Productivity Center will host its second 
Agricultural Biotechnology conference. The conference is designed 
for the life science, chemical, food, agriculture, seed and biotechnology 
industries. Some of the topics to be covered will include: Effectively 
Communicating with Consumers; Successful Product Development; Food 
Industry Perspective and Potential Partnership Opportunities; an update on 
February session of the CBD Biosafety Protocol; Initiated Labeling Laws for 
U.S.; Trade Policy Solutions to Regulatory Problems; Genomics’ Role in Ag 
Biotech; and Intellectual Property and Patent Law Issues.
The workshops featured will be: "How to Plan and Finance the Growth of 
Private Agbiotech Companies" led by Tom Steen, Matt Laffey, & John H. 
McGarvey of Cybus Capital Markets; "Capturing Value: Optimum 
Commercialization of Plant Biotechnology Innovations" led by Don Senechal of 
Senechal, Jorgenson, Hale, & Co.; and "Detection, Qualification, and 
Certification Methods for Genetically Modified Organisms" led by John Fagan 
Genetic ID.
Speakers at the conference will represent companies and organizations such 
The Pillsbury Company; International Food Information Council (IFIC); Asgrow 
Seed Company; Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); Agritope, Inc.; 
Seminis Vegetable Seeds; Powell, Goldstein, Frazer and Murphy, LLP; DNAP 
Holding Corp.; A/F Protein Inc.; Lyon & Lyon, McGregor & Adler L.L.P.; 
Mycogen Corporation; Acacia Biosciences; BioScience Securities, Inc.; 
Farmland Industries; and Hogan & Hartson, L.L.P.
Call 1-800-882-8684, visit <>, or email for 
more information.
> March 3, 1999 
2) New York Times -Could Monsanto's Special Culture Survive a Merger? 
> ______________________________________________________________ 
> C HICAGO -- Robert Shapiro, the chief executive of Monsanto Co., 
> occupies a modest cubicle on the ninth floor of the Merchandise 
> Mart in downtown Chicago, about 300 miles from the company's 
> headquarters in St. Louis. 
> On most days, Shapiro, 60, arrives in a plaid shirt or a sweater, 
> with khakis. No tie. Employees call him Bob. In the nearly four 
> years that he has headed the company, formalities have been dropped 
> lower down the ranks, too: Discussion, through e-mail, is 
> encouraged, and nearly all top executives work in cubicles. 
> "I think it's better to have an open office rather than dark-wood 
> paneling and cuff links, where there's a message about power and 
> privilege," Shapiro said in a recent interview. "You want a place 
> that doesn't look like it takes itself too seriously." 
> At the same time that Shapiro is beating a drum for an open and 
> free-thinking corporate environment, however, he and other 
> executives are in merger negotiations with DuPont, a much larger 
> company with more traditional ways, according to executives who say 
> they have been briefed on the negotiations. 
> The result has been a peculiar courtship in recent months between 
> the two companies. Shapiro, these executives say, has been 
> searching for a way for Monsanto to be acquired by DuPont and still 
> retain its special character and habits, with its own compensation 
> and incentive programs, and possibly its own stock. 
> Shapiro declined to comment on the prospects of any deal. DuPont 
> officials also would not comment. The talks, according to the 
> executives who say they have been briefed, are still at a 
> preliminary stage and may go no further. In June, Monsanto agreed 
> to be acquired by the American Home Products Corp. for $34.4 
> billion, but that deal fell apart in October. 
> Still, corporate culture is clearly important to Monsanto as it 
> slowly transforms itself from a chemicals concern to what is called 
> a life sciences company, making everything from arthritis drugs to 
> genetically modified crops. 
> To revive flagging earnings, the $9 billion conglomerate is trying 
> to act like a small, high-technology start-up company, favoring 
> teamwork and spontaneity over hierarchy and convention. While some 
> critics have dismissed Shapiro's style as New Age management, he 
> says that a start-up's attributes -- being aggressive, 
> entrepreneurial and quick to market with new products -- are what 
> Monsanto needs to compete with larger rivals like Novartis and 
> Rhone-Poulenc. 
> "I think Shapiro thought Monsanto had to set the metronome at a 
> higher speed to compete," said James Wilbur, an analyst with 
> Salomon Smith Barney. "And so they adopted an environment to 
> accomplish that." 
> But the right environment may not be enough. Monsanto could use a 
> huge infusion of cash after spending more than $8 billion in the 
> last few years on acquisitions aimed at strengthening its 
> agriculture division. And to compete better against the giants in 
> life sciences, the company needs a bigger partner, like DuPont. 
> Can Shapiro get Monsanto the size and cash it needs and still 
> preserve the company's freewheeling ways? 
> Many analysts are skeptical, especially given their belief that the 
> deal with American Home Products collapsed in large part because 
> Shapiro and John Stafford, the chief executive of American Home, 
> clashed over who would control the company and how the two 
> different ways of doing business would blend. In meetings, one 
> Monsanto official said, the differences were stark: Monsanto 
> employees spoke up and disagreed with "Bob," while American Home 
> officials deferred to "Mr. Stafford." 
> "The two companies did have different cultures, but there was also 
> a CEO ego conflict," said William Fiala, an analyst with Edward 
> Jones & Co. 
> A Monsanto spokeswoman would say only that the directors of the two 
> companies had decided it was not in their shareholders' best 
> interest to merge, echoing what a joint press release said at the 
> time. 
> But DuPont may want to strike a deal with Monsanto. Both companies 
> are increasingly focusing on life sciences. DuPont, which has a 
> small pharmaceuticals division, wants to expand its drug business, 
> while Monsanto's G.D. Searle & Co. unit is a small but growing 
> force, with strong cancer and arthritis drugs. 
> "It would be a very complicated deal," said Robert House, a 
> professor of organizational behavior at the Wharton School of the 
> University of Pennsylvania. "If it's managed as a holding company 
> manages an acquisition, things won't change for Monsanto. But that 
> would mean they're not taking advantage of the merger. So what's 
> the point?" 
> While it is unclear whether Monsanto's insistence on doing things 
> differently is encouraging or hindering a big merger, its approach 
> has so far done little for the bottom line. After years of 
> spectacular earnings gains, the company faltered in 1998. Heavy 
> research spending and a string of high-priced acquisitions in the 
> seed business saddled the company with a huge debt load. Earnings 
> suffered, and heavy reorganization charges and layoffs were 
> announced. 
> The stock tumbled in October after the deal with American Home 
> Products collapsed, and it has been treading water ever since. The 
> shares closed Tuesday at $44.375, down 6.5 percent so far this year 
> and a 31 percent drop from their 52-week high of $63.9375 in 
> August. 
> The company has also come under sharp criticism, especially in 
> Britain, for its genetically altered seeds. When Shapiro was in San 
> Francisco last year, he was hit in the face with a pie thrown by 
> someone protesting "Frankenstein foods." 
> Monsanto executives, however, say their long-term strategy is 
> sound. The company bought seed companies to speed its genetically 
> modified seeds to market. Monsanto says that such products have 
> been proved safe and could even bring great environmental benefits. 
> Company executives say that a revolution is under way in food, 
> nutrition and health care, and that it involves using biology and 
> genetic science. So Monsanto has spent heavily on research and 
> development to create a pipeline of blockbuster drugs, like its 
> popular new arthritis drug Celebrex, and it is modifying corn and 
> soybean seeds to make their crops more productive and more 
> resistant to disease. 
> Shapiro and other Monsanto executives say that for the last few 
> years they have staked the future of Monsanto not just on what the 
> company plans to create but also on how it plans to create it. 
> "All companies think they have the smarter guys," Shapiro said. "So 
> we came to the conclusion that our biggest competitive advantage 
> was our culture. If we got a higher percentage of people's 
> potential, we could win. In an environment where people care about 
> what they're doing and feel a personal bond, it will release a lot 
> of potential." 
> Shapiro talks about companies' having complex ecosystems, of trying 
> to create a setting where employees can be honest, of channeling a 
> worker's energy and creativity. And he says that the right 
> corporate environment comes down to two things: authenticity and 
> caring. 
> He rejects traditional corporate structures as cold and 
> debilitating. When Shapiro, who has been with the company in 
> various capacities for nearly two decades, first visited Monsanto's 
> huge corporate campus in St. Louis, where the buildings are 
> lettered, he said that it was as if he could hear the voice of 
> Monsanto calling out to him, saying, "We are very big and you are 
> very small." 
> Nearly four years after taking over as chief executive, Shapiro has 
> refashioned Monsanto as an open and free-thinking company, 
> executives there say, where bright cubicles are decorated with art 
> and flowers. In addition to abolishing executives suites, he 
> instituted flexible work schedules and work locations, including 
> his own. Each business unit has co-presidents. He has encouraged 
> free discussion, even something he calls an "underground 
> newsletter" -- a computer site where employees can post their 
> thoughts about the company anonymously. 
> "Bob's really keen on how people feel when they work," said Nick 
> Rosa, a vice president at Monsanto who has worked with Shapiro 
> since 1982. "He believes that the more you trust people, the more 
> honest and productive they'll be." 
> Few outside Monsanto seem to know much about its unconventional 
> working environment. Many of the Wall Street analysts who cover the 
> company say they don't know much about the company's corporate 
> culture or about Shapiro himself, other than that he plays the 
> Japanese board game Go and that he works out of Chicago, where he 
> lives with his wife and two children, ages 3 and 11 months. 
> Shapiro was born in New York City, the son of a corporate lawyer 
> turned chief executive. He went to Harvard but said he felt lost 
> there after he was given sophomore standing during his first year. 
> In the yearbook for the class of '59, he was one of the few 
> students not pictured. 
> "By the time I graduated, I wasn't into pictures and yearbooks and 
> 'Fair Harvard' and all that stuff," he said. But those years were 
> important. "Up until then I had defined myself as someone who read 
> a lot and got good grades. In those three years I discovered that 
> wasn't what life was about." 
> Among other things, he discovered folk music, playing the guitar 
> and hanging out with people like Joan Baez, who was a student at 
> Boston University. And, he said, he played lots of poker. 
> Shapiro went to Columbia Law School, and later taught law at 
> Northeastern University in Boston and at the University of 
> Wisconsin at Madison, where he offered a course on cities and how 
> they function. It was then, he says, that he came to believe that 
> the very culture of the cities, their fabric and environment, had 
> devastating social and emotional consequences for their 
> inhabitants. 
> He said he was interested in how to design policies that were good 
> for people. It was this notion that he later brought to Monsanto. 
> Before arriving at Monsanto, though, he was general counsel for the 
> General Instrument Corp., under his father, who was the chief 
> executive. There, he said, he fell in love with business. He went 
> on to become general counsel of Searle, a small pharmaceutical 
> company in Chicago, which was later bought by Monsanto. From there, 
> he headed Nutrasweet, then a small unit of Searle, eventually 
> becoming chief executive of Monsanto in April 1995. 
> "He's about as good a CEO as I've ever seen," said William 
> Ruckelshaus, the chairman of Browning-Ferris Industries and a 
> longtime Monsanto board member. "He's a very inclusive type of 
> manager. He makes the decision, but he encourages and listens hard 
> to what everyone else has to say." 
> Some experts question, however, whether Monsanto can remain 
> Monsanto if the company is acquired. "If history is any guide, that 
> cubicle thing may be short-lived," said Thomas Lys, a mergers 
> specialist at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of 
> Management. 
> Still, the company's special qualities could survive a merger -- 
> and perhaps even survive Shapiro. 
> "This is not an expression of Shapiro's philosophy," Shapiro said. 
> "This is a business philosophy of how you make money in life 
> sciences. And in a Darwinian world, this culture will prevail." 
Wednesday March 3, 1:54 pm Eastern Time

3) Monsanto, DuPont decline comment on merger talks
(Recasts lead, updates stock prices in paragraph 2; previous NEW YORK)
WILMINGTON, Del., March 3 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - 
news) and DuPont Co. (NYSE:DD - news) on Wednesday declined to 
comment on a published report that they were in merger talks.
Shares in Monsanto climbed $2.38 to $46.75 after a delayed opening on the 
New York Stock Exchange, while DuPont 
stock edged 50 cents higher to $51.81.
A spokeswoman for Monsanto, a biotechnology giant, declined to comment on 
the New York Times report that the 
companies were in negotiations on a combination.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont, a chemicals industry leader, said it was not 
company policy to comment on rumors.
The New York Times, in its March 3 report, quoted ``executives who say they 
have been briefed on the negotiations.''
The talks are still in a preliminary stage and may not go any further, the 
executives were quoted as saying.

4) The BBC web site has a special report on genetically-modified food, 
entitled "GM foods: Big promises, little profit" 
featuring a photo of a couple of salmon up front with the caption " Your 
next salmon could get its genes from the biotech lab" and the opener:
Would you like to taste Endless Summer tomatoes? Bake your bread with 
Roundup Ready corn? And grill some wonderful AquaAdvantage salmon? 
Exact location: 
Agbiotech giants Novartis (through its Agribusiness Biotechnology Research 
affiliate) and Pioneer Hi-Bred both recently announced deals with 
firms working in the area of accelerated genetic evolution. Their aim is to 
access to new methods of generating increased genetic variability, in the 
of increasing the speed of new product discovery and development. Novartis 
has signed a collaborative agreement with Diversa Corporation to employ its 
"directed evolution" and "gene reassembly" approaches to optimize target 
compounds for use in specific applications. Pioneer Hi-Bred has partnered 
Maxygen Incorporated, and plans to use the company’s "DNA shuffling" 
technology to accelerate the development of new crop products (1,2).
Under its deal, Diversa will work to identify and optimize genes in 
crops through the use of its novel discovery and screening technologies. The 
targets will be crops with enhanced quality and performance characteristics. 
Diversa’s technology platform involves the direct isolation, expression and 
sequencing of plant and other genomes, followed by proprietary screening 
techniques that allow the company to produce target enzymes at a rate of 
one billion per day. Lead molecules are then optimized using the company’s 
directed evolution and gene reassembly techniques.
As part of the alliance, Novartis will make a $12.5 million initial payment 
Diversa. In addition, Novartis will fund research, make milestone payments, 
pay licensing fees and royalties to Diversa.
Pioneer Hi-Bred is also looking to decrease time to market through its 
with Maxygen. Maxygen employs a technique known as "DNA shuffling" to 
accelerate the creation of new gene sequences with the intent of producing 
genes which yield improved traits such as higher yields, improved stress 
tolerance, and better nutritional characteristics. Access to this technology 
allow Pioneer scientists to evaluate many more genes in the laboratory 
moving into expensive field tests. Crop targets include corn, soybeans, 
sunflowers, canola, wheat, alfalfa, and sorghum (2,3).
Under the agreement, Pioneer will make a $5 million equity investment in 
Maxygen, in addition to paying $2.5 million in start-up costs and providing 
$27.5 million in additional research and development funding over the next 
years. Milestone payments emanating from development achievements could 
also result in up to $50 million in additional revenue for Maxygen.
Diversa and Maxygen are California biotechnology firms located in San Diego 
and Santa Clara, respectively.
1. Diversa and Novartis form alliance for crop protection and improvement. 
Press Release, <>, 1999.
2. DNA shuffling to accelerate crop improvement. Press Release, 
<>, 1999.
3. Welch M. 1999. Maxygen, Pioneer Enter $85M Crop Genetics Deal. 
BioWorld Today 1-5.
William O. Bullock 
Institute for Biotechnology Information, LLC 
Research Triangle Park, NC 

April 18-20, 1999 
Laval, Quebec
Organized by the Quebec Bioindustries Association (QBA) with the theme 
When Innovation Overcomes Barriers, ITB 1999 will offer a unique platform 
exploring innovations and new trends in biotechnology and for developing 
networks, partnerships and strategic alliances.
More than 500 leading scientists and researchers, world-renowned speakers, 
entrepreneurs, and investors will participate at this event where crucial 
for the future of biotechnology will be discussed. ITB 1999 will provide a 
dynamic setting for meetings and fruitful discussions on key topics, 
particularly in 
the biopharmaceutical, environment and agri-food sectors. The forum includes 
one-on-one business meetings, an exhibition, and a poster session describing 
results of university research.
A partial list of sessions includes: Environmental Applications for 
Sectors; Innovative Processes of Microencapsulation; New Commercial 
Applications of Probiotics; and Environmental Biotechnology on the 
International Scene.
Call 1-877-213-8368, visit <>, fax
514-288-6469, or email for more information.