SnowBall archive


GE - GMO news 17/3/99

1) FOCUS-Euro stores link to seek non-modified foods 
2) Monsanto Withdraws Brazil Biotech Soy Application-Greenpeace 
3) FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: FOE welcomes M&S ban on GM food MAR 16, 1999, 
4) Crop Biotech Leaders DuPont,Monsanto Taking Different Roads 
6) Crop Biotech/Different Roads-2: Licenses Last In Perpetuity 
7) Novartis -2: Herbicide-Resistant Corn Seen By 2003
8) Greenspan: New Technology Helps Farmers Weather Crisis
9) Novartis Enters Biotech Race For Cereal Mkt 
11) RhoBio Signs a Research Agreement for the Discovery of New Corn Genes 12)
14) Voluntary curb denied 
15) Hoechst brings forward timing of alliance 
16) Novartis warns despite 16% rise 
19) EU scientific committee casts doubt on safety of injected hormone 
20 ) The Times (London) March 17, 1999, Novartis gives warning
21) Controversy over use of genetically modified food grows in parts of
22) Monsanto tries to head off brain drain 
23) Opinion Uncertain future for agricultural R&D

1) FOCUS-Euro stores link to seek non-modified foods (Adds Greenpeace 
> welcoming move, Tesco comment) By Richard Meares LONDON, March 17 
> (Reuters) 
> - Major European supermarkets, fighting U.S. refusal to say if foods 
> are 
> genetically modified, set up a consortium on Wednesday to ensure no 
> such 
> ingredients make it into their own-label products. Britain's 
> J.Sainsbury Plc 
> said it had formed the organisation with six other European 
> supermarket 
> groups to weed genetically modified (GM) foods out of any stage 
> of production. By establishing verified non-GM sources in the 
> farmers' 
> field and ensuring segregation through the supply chain, we will be 
> GM-free," it said in a statement. 
> "This move will enable Sainsbury's to eliminate all GM 
> ingredients from its own-label products in response to customer 
> demand for GM-free foods." The environmentalist group 
> Greenpeace hoped other retailers would follow suit, saying:. 
> "This is the beginning of the end of trying to force-feed 
> consumers unwanted and unneeded genetically manipulated food." 
> The consortium includes Britain's Marks & Spencer, 
> Carrefour of France, Delhaize of Belgium, Italy's Effelunga, 
> Swiss Migros and Superquinn of Ireland. 
> "We always wanted GM and standard crops to be separated and 
> were extremely disappointed when this did not happen with the 
> U.S. soya crop," Sainsbury's environmental manager Alison Austin 
> said. 
> Brand-name goods sold by supermarkets are another matter. 
> Under European Union law, GM soya and other crops must be 
> clearly shown on food labels but derivatives like oil need not. 
> Greenpeace said soybeans are used in most supermarket foods 
> including bread, pasta, yoghurt, chocolate and ice cream. 
> Up to 50 of Sainsbury's 1,500 products currently contain GM 
> soya protein or DNA. Marks and Spencer said it would take about 
> three months for it to remove GM soya from all its products. 
> GM food has become a politically charged topic in Britain 
> and a major campaign has been launched against it. 
> The government says it is confident about GM foods but 
> polls show a strong majority of consumers, remembering similar 
> early assurances before the "mad cow" contaminated beef scandal 
> broke a few years ago, are sceptical. Scientists have 
> called for more research into what some newspapers have 
> nicknamed "Frankenstein food" amid speculation that they could 
> damage the human immune system and cause cancer. 
> ASDA Group Plc, Britain's number three food retailer, last 
> week followed smaller groups such as Iceland and Waitrose and 
> said it wanted its own-label range of products to be free of all 
> modified ingredients. Safeway says it is working towards 
> substituting GM products with conventional ones, but Britain's 
> other big food retailer Tesco said on Wednesday it had no such 
> plans at present but labelled all goods with GM foods or 
> derivatives. 
> ======#====== 
> 03/16 
2) Novartis focused on internal growth 
By Greg Calhoun LONDON (Reuters) 
> - Swiss life sciences company Novartis AG said Tuesday its net 
> income rose 
> 16 percent last year, meeting analysts' expectations, and its 
> chairman 
> said near-term growth would be generated internally. We have the 
> critical 
> size," Chairman Alex Krauer told Reuters in an interview in London, 
> where 
> the group announced that its 1998 group net income rose to 6.06 
> billion 
> Swiss francs ($3.36 billion). In our case the two important criteria 
> would 
> be: would such a transaction add a dynamic to the growth... and the 
> second is could it increase and improve our position in the U.S.," he 
> said. 
> Krauer said life sciences rival Hoechst AG, tipped in some 
> quarters as a potential target for Novartis, would not meet its 
> criteria for acquisition. Hoechst is in the process of forming 
> a major competitor to Novartis through a planned merger with 
> Rhone-Poulenc SA of France. 
> "We look seriously at everybody, but the portfolio and the 
> activities of both Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc SA would not meet 
> the criteria I mentioned," Krauer added. 
> Krauer, who steps down as chairman next month to take the 
> same post at banking group UBS AG, said Novartis intended to 
> make further investments aimed at strengthening marketing and 
> distribution, especially in the United States. While 
> Novartis reported a 16 percent rise in group net income, 
> analysts said the result was flattered by cost savings from the 
> 1996 merger between Sandoz and Ciba and investment earnings on 
> the group's huge cash pile. Sales, which were announced in 
> January, were ahead just 2 percent at 31.70 billion francs 
> ($17.6 billion), depressed by the strong swiss franc and a 
> difficult market for agricultural products. 
> Executives told the group's annual news conference in 
> London they expected solid performances from the healthcare and 
> consumer health divisions to boost operating profit in 1999, 
> driven by merger synergies and volume sales growth of products 
> already on the market. 
> Looking further ahead, they were optimistic that at least 
> three of four new drugs targeted for regulatory filings in late 
> 1999 or early 2000 had "blockbuster" potential capable of 
> generating peak annual sales of around $1 billion. 
> These included gastro-intestinal treatment Zelmac, asthma 
> and allergy drug E25, and diabetes therapy Starlix, Chief 
> Financial Officer Raymund Breu said. Novartis also expects 
> resources devoted to research and development to remain above 
> the industry average. Novartis said R&D spending in 
> pharmaceuticals was 18 percent of sales last year -- "among the 
> highest in the industry." Commenting on the heated debate 
> about genetically modified foods, Krauer said the group remained 
> committed to biotechnology and warned that Europe ran the risk 
> of losing out in another leading area if it failed to accept 
> biotech as the way of the future. 
> ======#====== 
> 03/16 
3) FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: FOE welcomes M&S ban on GM food MAR 16, 1999, 
> M2 Communications - Friends of the Earth today congratulated Marks and 
> Spencer following its announcement that it is removing "all 
> genetically 
> mofified ingredients" from its products. Pete Riley, food campaigner 
> at 
> Friends of the Earth said: "This is excellent news and an important 
> victory 
> for consumer power. We congratulate Marks and Spencers for having the 
> courage to listen to the public mood and ban GM food from all M&S 
> stores. It 
> will now be impossible for stores like Sainsbury's and Tesco to 
> continue to 
> ignore their customers on this vital issue". 
> Notes 
> Last October Friends of the Earth published a NOP survey of 
> supermarket 
> customers and their attitudes towards GM food. The survey asked 
> stores' 
> customers whether they thought stores should stop selling GM food. 58 
> per 
> cent yes. The breakdown for each store was: M&S 65% Somerfield 63% 
> Safeway 
> 61% Sainsbury's 61% Tesco 60% ASDA 56% CO-OP 56% 
> -0- 
> ======#====== 
> 03/16
4) Crop Biotech Leaders DuPont,Monsanto Taking Different Roads DES 
> MOINES, Iowa (Dow Jones)--DuPont Co. (DD) and Monsanto Co. (MTC) are 
> now the 
> undisputed kings of crop biotechnology, but they have very different 
> strategies. While Monsanto is concentrating on so-called "input" 
> traits, 
> DuPont is placing its bets on "output" traits. DuPont's agreement on 
> Monday to acquire the 80% it doesn't already own of seed giant Pioneer 
> Hi-Bred International Inc. (PHB) for $7.7 billion signals that DuPont 
> wants 
> to focus on genetically engineering the nutritional characteristics of 
> crops, Pioneer Chief Executive Charles S. Johnson told Dow Jones. 
> Monsanto, meanwhile, has made a big splash across the U.S. Farm Belt 
> by 
> transplanting into plants foreign genes that make crops cheaper to 
> grow. 
> Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans, for example, are genetically 
> altered to 
> survive a dousing by its Roundup herbicide, making it far easier for 
> farmers 
> to chemically weed their fields. Wall Street analysts estimate that 
> roughly half of the soybeans planted this year in the U.S. will 
> contain the Roundup Ready trait, which could generate roughly 
> $300 million this year in revenue for Monsanto and its partners. 
> Monsanto is the nation's second-biggest seed company, behind 
> Pioneer. DuPont and Pioneer already had a crop biotechnology 
> joint venture aimed at output traits. Among other things, their 
> scientists are manipulating the amino acid and fatty acid levels 
> in plants. They've already changed some crops to make them a 
> more potent source of livestock feed and to invent a healthier 
> cooking oil. 
> The venture, formed in January 1998 and named Optimum Quality 
> Grains, is contracting with thousands of Midwest farmers to grow 
> crops such as corn with an unusually high level of oil, a source 
> of energy for livestock. To be sure, Monsanto executives at 
> its St. Louis headquarters are also interested in changing the 
> quality traits of crops. Monsanto, for example, owns a 
> technology for slowing the ripening process in tomatoes. But 
> industry officials say that DuPont, a Wilmington, Del., 
> chemicals giant, has by far the biggest patent estate for output 
> traits in crops. 
> (MORE) DOW JONES NEWS 03-16-99 
> 10:52 PM 
> ======#====== 

> 03/16 
By Gabrielle Fagan, Lord Staff, PA News 
Trials of genetically modified oilseed rape have so 
> far not revealed harmful side effects on weeds or other plant species, the 
> Government disclosed tonight. Junior environment minister Lord Whitty 
> said in a parliamentary written reply that the National Institute of 
> Agricultural Botany concluded that the environmental impact of the 
> crop, grown for experimental research, would be "equivalent" to 
> conventional oilseed rape cultivars. It had been grown for seed production 
> purposes only. 
> The first monitoring by the NIAB indicated "there is no 
> enhancement of the ability of the genetically modified oilseed 
> rape to establish volunteer, weed or feral populations and no 
> abnormal behaviour was observed. No evidence of gene flow or 
> gene introgression into other Crucifer species was detected in 
> the many hundreds of plants tested. The observed behaviour of 
> the genetically modified oilseed rape equated with that of 
> conventional oilseed rape." In another reply, junior 
> agriculture minister Lord Donoughue said Government-funded 
> research to determine whether crops modified to be insect- 
> resistant have any effect on bees was under way at the Scottish 
> Crops Research Institute. 
> ======#====== 
> DJ 03/16 

6) Crop Biotech/Different Roads-2: Licenses Last In Perpetuity 
> Pioneer hasn't put nearly as much effort as Monsanto has into 
> developing 
> input traits such as insect-resistance and herbicide- tolerance. 
> Indeed, 
> Pioneer got these traits into its seed by licensing them from 
> Monsanto 
> years ago. Johnson told Dow Jones that the licenses last in 
> perpetuity and 
> aren't affected by any change in control of Pioneer. In the Dow Jones 
> interview, Johnson said farmers won't notice much change in how they 
> buy 
> seed in the wake of the DuPont deal. Pioneer will keep its management 
> headquarters in Des Moines, 
> Iowa, and operate as a separate DuPont unit. Pioneer will also 
> keep its brand names. 
> Some analysts expect DuPont to bundle sales of its crop 
> pesticides with Pioneer seed. But Johnson said he isn't aware of 
> any plans to do that anytime soon. 
> The terms of DuPont's $7.7 billion cash and stock offer are 
> somewhat unusual. DuPont didn't demand a breakup fee if Pioneer 
> were to run off with a higher bidder. Johnson said DuPont 
> doesn't have a right of first refusal. Realistically, however, 
> any competing bidder would be at a disadvantage against DuPont. 
> DuPont already owns 20% of Pioneer. And Pioneer has unequal 
> system of voting rights, which is designed to slow a hostile 
> suitor. Investors who hold their Pioneer common shares for more 
> than three years get five votes for each share. Before then, 
> it's one-share one-vote. 
> - Scott Kilman; 312-750-4128 
> (END) DOW JONES NEWS 03-16-99 

> ======#====== 
> DJ 03/17 =
7) Novartis -2: Herbicide-Resistant Corn Seen By 2003 Samo said 
> research is still being conducted into the herbicide - called a 
> protoporphyrinogen oxidase inhibitor, or PPO - that would eventually 
> work 
> together with Novartis herbicide-resistant crops. He said Novartis 
> PPO-resistant corn, which would be marketed in conjunction with PPO, 
> should 
> be on the market by 2003. The company already sells corn seeds 
> genetically 
> modified to produce bacillus thuringiensis, an insect-killing 
> bacteria. 
> "We have the chemical pesticide in development. It is not yet fully 
> developed," Samo said. A research manager at the company has said the 
> new 
> Acuron 
> gene, which makes plants resistant to PPO, could eventually be 
> applied to wheat, soybeans and rice. According to Samo, Novartis 
> genetically modified wheat is "quite a long way down the line". 
> Novartis will be aided in marketing corn by its joint venture 
> with U.S.-based Land O' Lakes Inc., which is, according to Samo, 
> among the largest cooperatives of corn producers in the U.S. 
> Engineering new genetically modified varieties of rice is not 
> part of Novartis' immediate plans, Samo said. He added that 
> Novartis donated the right to use its Bt gene in rice to the 
> International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. 
> Using the Bt gene, the IRRI is trying to develop a rice 
> resistant to the plant hopper, an insect which damages rice 
> crops in much of southeast Asia. -By Daniel Balint-Kurti 
> 44-171-832-9561; 
> (END) DOW JONES NEWS 03-17-99 

> ======#====== 
> 03/17 WSJ: 
8) Greenspan: New Technology Helps Farmers Weather Crisis By 
> Michael M. Phillips Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal 
> Technological 
> advances in agriculture have saved the nation's downtrodden farmers 
> from an 
> even worse financial crisis, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan 
> said 
> yesterday. The U.S. farm downturn can be traced "to an important 
> degree" to 
> the recessions that began in East Asia in 1997 and have since spread 
> to 
> Latin America and elsewhere, the Fed chief said. And "no one can 
> predict 
> with much confidence exactly when recoveries in demand will take hold 
> in the 
> troubled foreign economies," he added. 
> But U.S. farmers who have invested in new technology - from 
> high-yielding seeds to automation to biotechnology - are 
> weathering the storm better than expected, Mr. Greenspan said in 
> a speech to the Independent Bankers Association of America's 
> annual meeting in San Francisco. 
> "The weakening of farm markets, while pressuring farm income 
> and wealth, has not had effects as dramatic as the declines in 
> market prices might seem to have implied," he said. "Partly 
> because of increased government payments to farmers this past 
> year, but also because of efficiency gains and real cost 
> reductions that have been implemented over the past several 
> years, net farm income and farm cash flow from operations are 
> holding up considerably better than they otherwise would have." 
> Farmers have been among the hardest hit by the global 
> financial crisis, along with steelmakers and oil producers. But 
> just as Mr. Greenspan has credited technology for allowing 
> manufacturers and other companies to increase pay without 
> raising prices significantly, he cited technological 
> improvements for insulating U.S. agriculture from the worst 
> effects of world-wide economic turmoil. 
> Over the past three decades, farm productivity - measured in 
> value-added per hour worked - has risen at an average of 4.5% a 
> year, about triple the rate of improvement of nonfarm business 
> productivity, he said. For instance, although the nation's dairy 
> herd is about three-fourths its size in the late 1960s, milk 
> production has increased by more than a third, he said. 
> "For those farms that are the hardest pressed during the 
> current period of slack demand from abroad, small efficiencies 
> can mean the difference between survival and failure," he said. 
> Mr. Greenspan noted that not all farmers have invested in new 
> technologies, and they tend to be hardest hit from the recent 
> weaknesses in prices for soybeans, wheat, corn and other 
> agricultural products. But U.S. commercial banks active in farm 
> lending are generally in good health, he said. Looking at the 
> overall economy, the chairman repeated earlier comments that 
> economists have interpreted to mean that the Fed isn't sure 
> whether its next move will be to raise interest rates or lower 
> them. "After eight years of economic expansion, the economy 
> appears stretched in a number of dimensions, implying 
> considerable upside and downside risks to the economic outlook," 
> he said. 
> Journal Link: For the full text and a video report of Alan 
> Greenspan's remarks on the U.S. farm economy, see The Wall 
> Street Journal Interactive Edition at 
> (END) DOW JONES NEWS 03-17-99 
> ======#====== 
> 03/17 DJ INTERVIEW: 

9) Novartis Enters Biotech Race For Cereal Mkt 
By Daniel Balint-Kurti LONDON (Dow Jones)--Swiss multinational Novartis AG
> NOV) 
> is planning to enter the cereals market in a bid to boost sales of 
> the 
> company's gene-modified seed, Wolfgang Samo, head of the Novartis 
> Agribusiness Division, told Dow Jones Newswires this week. Developing 
> cereal crops would give Novartis access to a vast market. The value 
> of the 
> world wheat market alone for biotechnology companies was put by one 
> industry analyst at around $70 billion. Research is underway to 
> engineer 
> a variety of barley which would be easier to malt, said Samo. He said 
> the 
> market for such 
> 'output traits', qualities designed to benefit the processor or 
> consumer of the crop, is even larger than the market for crops 
> engineered to resist weeds and insects. 
> "Input traits are just the door openers for biotech. Output 
> traits (will) determine the market - I think it is unlimited," 
> said Samo. The acquisition of French grain seed company C.C. 
> Benoist S.A. last year, the second purchase of such a company by 
> Novartis, should help Novartis to eventually penetrate the wheat 
> market. Although Novartis is not currently running any research 
> projects on wheat, a spokesman said developing a herbicide- 
> resistant wheat seed is a long-term aim for the company. Sales 
> of herbicide resistant seeds and their compatible pesticides are 
> already big business for German biotechnology firm AgrEvo GmbH 
> and Monsanto Corp (MTC). Sales of Monsanto soybeans engineered 
> for resistance to its own brand of herbicide, Roundup, have 
> boomed in the U.S. over the last year. By delaying the start- 
> up of research projects into wheat, Novartis risks falling 
> behind other biotechnology companies. A spokesman for Monsanto, 
> which sources say has made the most progress of all 
> biotechnology firms towards genetically modifying wheat, said it 
> aims to have its wheat on the market within the next five to 
> seven years. 
> "We are not really a big wheat seeds company," said Samo. "We 
> will first get to know the market better before embarking on big 
> GMO (genetically modified organism) projects." 
> (MORE) DOW JONES NEWS 03-17-99 
> ======#====== 

> Reuters 03/15 
> Portugal 
> has approved applications to grow genetically modified (GM) crops 
> experimentally, a government spokesman said. The Environment and 
> Health 
> Ministries approved applications last year from a Portuguese 
> laboratory to 
> grow GM potatoes experimentally, as well as requests from some 
> foreign 
> biotechnology companies to grow GM maize, the spokesman said. Jorge 
> Fernandes of the Environment Ministry told Reuters that 
> the Portuguese laboratory had cultivated GM potatoes at an 
> agricultural college in Santarem, north of Lisbon. 
> He added that GM maize resistant to herbicides and insecticides 
> had been cultivated by companies including Monsanto , Novartis 
> , Pioneer and AgrEvo in various locations in mainland Portugal. 
> Fernandes said the experiments had been completed and that the 
> Portuguese government had not received any applications this 
> year to grow GM crops experimentally. 
> ======#====== 

focused on
internal growth 
11) RhoBio Signs a Research Agreement for the Discovery of New Corn Genes
> France, March 17 BODY: RhoBio, a joint-venture between Rhone-Poulenc 
> Agro 
> and Biogemma, has signed a three-year exclusive collaboration 
> greement 
> with Celera AgGen, the agricultural business unit of The 
> Perkin-Elmer 
> Corporation's (NYSE: PKN) Celera Genomics division, for the 
> discovery of 
> corn genes associated with important agronomic and quality traits. 
> Claude 
> Lescoffit, Chairman of RhoBio, and Georges Freyssinet, its CEO, 
> pointed out 
> that, "the genomics expertise of Celera 
> AgGen, which ranks among the best in the world, will enable us 
> to speed up the development of new high-quality crops which meet 
> the current needs of the various players in the agribusiness." 
> This agreement will give RhoBio access to technology and know- 
> how which can be used immediately to benefit Genoplante, the 
> federative plant genomics programme in which it participates. 
> This agreement is in line with RhoBio's strategy of developing 
> solutions for agricultural production based on plant improvement 
> by biotechnology. RhoBio, a French joint-venture between 
> Rhone-Poulenc Agro (a unit of Rhone-Poulenc S.A. (NYSE: RP)) and 
> Biogemma, is one of Europe's leading plant biotechnology 
> companies. Its research activities focus essentially on plant 
> disease resistance and the development of enabling technologies 
> and gene analysis techniques for field crop varieties. It is 
> supported by the work of the three laboratories of Biogemma (a 
> partnership between the seed breeders Limagrain and Pau-Euralis 
> and the companies Unigrains and Sofiproteol, financial bodies 
> working in the agricultural industry), as well as by the Lyons 
> research centre of Rhone-Poulenc Agro. In addition, RhoBio 
> inaugurated a laboratory devoted to genomics earlier this year 
> at Evry, where work for Genoplante will be carried out. 
> Celera AgGen is the agricultural business unit of Celera 
> Genomics, a division of The Perkin-Elmer Corporation. Celera 
> Genomics is a newly formed business that intends to become the 
> definitive source of genomic and related agricultural and 
> medical information. 
> Note: This press release was issued earlier today in France. 
> SOURCE RhoBio 
> CONTACT: Nicole GUIDICELLI of RhoBio, 33-4-72-85-27-64, or 
> Merle SPIEGEL of Celera AgGen, 203-761-5292 
> ORIGNAL-LANGUAGE: Rhone-Poulenc S.A.; RhoBio; Rhone-Poulenc 
> Agro; Biogemma; Celera AgGen; Celera Genomics; The Perkin-Elmer 
> Corporation 
> ======#====== 
> Business Week March 22, 1999 
BYLINE: By Paul Magnusson; Magnusson covers international 
> trade and economics from Washington. 
BODY: Is this U.S. trade policy -- or a comic 
> opera entitled Revenge of the Banana Republics? Hard to tell these 
> days, 
> as the U.S. and the European Union rattle sabres at each other over a 
> tropical fruit. It might well be amusing -- if there weren't a serious 
> issue 
> at stake. In this real-life burlesque, the Clinton Administration is 
> threatening to slap 100% tariffs on Scottish cashmere sweaters and 
> Italian 
> cheeses, as well as European biscuits and bed linens. The penalties 
> are in 
> retaliation for EU policies that favor imports from former European 
> colonies 
> in Africa and the Caribbean. Among the characters in this drama: Carl 
> Lindner, president of Cleveland-based Chiquita Brands and a major 
> financial 
> backer of President Clinton's. The EU claims that President Clinton is 
> paying off a political debt. The U.S. says the EU through quotas is 
> protecting Fyffes, the Irish banana importer, and Europe's farm 
> sector. 
> Caught in the middle is the Geneva-based World Trade Organization. 
> The 
> banana brouhaha is taxing the 138-member WTO's fledgling 
> dispute-settlement 
> process just as the WTO is establishing legal precedents to govern far 
> larger trade cases. ''ESSENTIAL.'' So while the banana case itself may 
> seem 
> trivial, there is a real principle at stake. As President Clinton 
> noted 
> at a Mar. 5 news conference: ''We cannot maintain an open trading 
> system, 
> which I am convinced is essential for global prosperity, unless we 
> have 
> rules that are abided by.'' It's crucial that the WTO rules get 
> respect 
> because bigger trade issues are looming. They include the EU's bans on 
> U.S. 
> beef that has been produced with growth hormones and on some older 
> U.S. 
> aircraft engines outfitted with new mufflers. Also on the table are 
> European 
> standards for a new generation of cellular phones, as well as labeling 
> and 
> licensing requirements to warn consumers about genetic alteration of 
> food. 
> Wherever the WTO comes down on those issues, its members have a 
> right to 
> expect compliance. The U.S. dutifully took the banana case to the 
> court six 
> years ago and won three clear rulings against the EU, the latest from 
> the 
> WTO in 1997. But the EU has been slow to comply. It was given until 
> this 
> January to conform to the decision, pay damages, or face retaliation. 
> Instead, the EU rejiggered its rules only slightly and sought further 
> delay. 
> The EU and the U.S. now await a ruling on the banana brawl on Apr. 12. 
> If 
> the EU loses, it should drop its quotas. And even if the U.S. loses, 
> it 
> should insist that in future cases, the same WTO trial judge should 
> rule on 
> whether subsequent reforms satisfy the judgment. 
> The WTO is at a crossroads. It can evolve into an effective 
> arbiter of 
> fair trade, or fail -- as did its predecessor, the General Agreement 
> on 
> Tariffs & Trades. As the world's two trading giants, the EU and the 
> U.S. 
> must keep that from happening by reaching a compromise. With so little 
> at 
> stake in actual trade in bananas, complying with a WTO ruling on this 
> matter shouldn't be so hard.

> ======#====== 

> European Report March 17, 1999 
BODY: A top official in the Clinton Administration has warned that if the
European Union consistently 
> sets up barriers to American exports, it will erode support in the 
> United 
> States Congress for the multilateral trade system. Stuart Eizenstat, 
> the 
> Under Secretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, 
> warned on 
> March 15 that the EU's perceived failure to open its markets in line 
> with 
> the World Trade Organisation's rulings "undercut critically needed 
> support 
> in Congress and the agricultural community for the WTO". Congress is 
> due to 
> vote 
> shortly on continued US membership of the WTO, and the Clinton 
> Administration is concerned that if the Geneva-based trade 
> watchdog cannot force the EU to change its policies, then the 
> lawmakers will turn against the WTO. Mr Eizenstat talked of the 
> broader ramifications for the future of the WTO dispute 
> settlement system of the current wrangle with the EU over 
> bananas and beef hormones. "We must continue to advance the 
> basic principles of respecting trade commitments, establishing 
> transparent and predictable regulatory processes, and using 
> science-based decision making on environmental, health and 
> safety issues", he said. "If we cannot show Americans that the 
> trading system works for them, then we will not be able to 
> sustain our policies in the international arena." But 
> potentially the biggest row could come in the area of 
> biotechnology and genetically -modified organisms ( GMOs) . Mr 
> Eizenstat predicted that within a few years, virtually 100% of 
> US agricultural commodity exports will be genetically modified 
> or mixed with GMO products - already half or more of this 
> year's US soyabean and cotton crop, and one third of this year's 
> corn crop could be produced with genetically -modified seed. 
> "We of course respect the EU's right to have a system of 
> government oversight for genetically -modified organisms", he 
> said. "But the EU approval system for GMOs is non-transparent, 
> unpredictable, not based on scientific principles, and all too 
> susceptible to political interference." He also complained about 
> media 'misinformation' about GMOs, in particular in the United 
> Kingdom. 
> ======#====== 

14) Voluntary curb denied 
> BODY: GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS Voluntary curb denied The 
> genetically modified crop industry yesterday denied a claim in an internal 
> government document that it was willing to agree limits on the acreage
of GM

> crops planted in 2000 and 2001. The document, produced on February 21, 
> said the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Crops (Scimac), the industry 
> body set up to support the introduction of GM crops in the UK, had
> a willingness in principle" to enter into the voluntary agreement. 
> Daniel Pearsall, Scimac secretary, confirmed the industry was in

> with the government about monitoring crops but it had no intention of
> limits on the amount planted. Vanessa Houlder 
> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 17, 1999, Wednesday 
15) Hoechst brings forward timing of alliance 
BYLINE: By Uta Harnischfeger in Leverkusen 
> DATELINE: Leverkusen 
BODY: Hoechst, the German pharmaceuticals group, 
> yesterday brought forward its planned merger with France's 
> Rhone-Poulenc by two to three years, in an effort to secure the backing of
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, its largest shareholder. The planned merger 
> would create Aventis, a life sciences company with $ 20bn in sales and 
> 95,000 employees. The original plan foresaw a 
> merger in two steps, with the first creating Aventis Hoechst and 
> Aventis Rhone-Poulenc on July 1, after which both companies were 
> to divest their remaining chemicals activities. 
> The full merger was originally scheduled for late 2001 or 
> 2002, but now it will be complete by the end of the year. 
> KPC appeared divided over the merits of the deal. It wanted 
> the new company created as soon as possible to boost shareholder 
> value and, thus, the valuation of its stake. 
> But Jurgen Dormann, Hoechst chairman, stressed yesterday that 
> KPC had assured Hoechst of its support following the revised 
> timetable. "It is for a good reason that we are changing [the 
> conditions of] the merger, after conducting all these talks with 
> the Kuwaitis," said Mr Dormann, following a Hoechst supervisory 
> board meeting. 
> With a 24.5 per cent stake, KPC was in a position to prevent 
> the merger, which requires the approval of 75 per cent of 
> Hoechst shareholders. Mr Dormann and Igor Landau, managing 
> director of Rhone-Poulenc, were keen to emphasise that many 
> shareholders wanted Aventis created as soon as possible. Mr 
> Landau said: "Like the other shareholders, the Kuwaitis support 
> the creation of Aventis, but to see this company created only in 
> two or three years posed a problem." 
> The supervisory board will hold an extraordinary meeting at 
> the end of April and shareholders will gather to vote on the 
> merger in June or July. Investors seemed confused by the new 
> timetable, with Hoechst shares ending the day down 2.1 per cent 
> or euro 0.90 at euro 41.50, while the overall market closed up 
> 1 per cent. 
> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 17, 1999, Wednesday 

16) Novartis warns despite 16% rise 
BYLINE: By David Pilling, Pharmaceuticals Correspondent 
> BODY: Novartis, the Swiss life science company, yesterday warned of 
> a 
> difficult year ahead in spite of reporting pre-tax profits up 6 per 
> cent 
> to SFr6.07bn ($ 4.15bn). "It will not be an easy year," admitted 
> Daniel 
> Vasella, chairman-designate and president, who said the company had 
> to 
> increase sales volumes after two successful years of cost- cutting. 
> Although Novartis has increased operating margins significantly 
> by realising 90 per cent of synergies from the 1996 merger of 
> Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, group sales stalled last year, rising 
> just 2 per cent to SFr31.7bn. Dr Vasella, under pressure to 
> prove the merger has been more than merely a cost-cutting 
> exercise, said Novartis would make "decisive investments in 
> growth opportunities" this year. 
> That included spending on technology and a beefed-up 
> development effort to bring products to market more quickly. 
> However, Dr Vasella, whose decision to take over the 
> chairmanship prompted speculation about a big deal, said he 
> would not be pressed into making a rash move. 
> Novartis has cash of SFr10.3bn, but it said Swiss law made it 
> difficult to return it to shareholders. 
> Dr Vasella said he was confident the company would be able to 
> drive growth organically, particularly through new drugs for 
> irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, diabetes and cancer. The 
> company could seek approval on some of these products within 12 
> months. 
> Even so, that leaves a long gap during which Novartis, which 
> relies heavily on older products, needs to increase sales 
> through recently launched drugs such as Exelon for Alzheimer's 
> and Diovan for blood pressure. 
> Exelon has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug 
> Administration, which has concerns about the drug, although 
> Novartis is confident these can be overcome by the year-end. 
> Healthcare sales, which make up more than half group revenue, 
> rose 3 per cent last year to SFr17.5bn. Volume in the struggling 
> agribusiness division and the restructured consumer health unit 
> rose 1 per cent. 
> Dr Vasella said opposition to genetically modified crops in 
> Europe had damaged the agribusiness, but Novartis had no plans 
> to curtail its investments in this area. 
> Earnings per share rose 17 per cent to SFr89, and the company 
> increased the dividend 16 per cent to SFr29. The shares closed 
> SFr49 lower at SFr2,534. 
> ======#====== 

> The Independent (London) March 17, 1999, 
BODY: NOVARTIS, the Swiss life sciences group, warned yesterday hat a ban on
genetically modified crops could destroy European farming. Wolfgang Samo,
head of agribusiness, said the moratorium backed by environmental groups 
> and the UK Conservative Party would have a "disastrous" effect. Novartis's 
> 1998 net income was Sfr6.1bn (pounds 2.6bn). 
> ======#====== 
> The Irish Times March 17, 1999, 
19) EU scientific committee casts doubt on safety of injected hormone used to
boost milk yield BYLINE: By KEVIN O'SULLIVAN, 
> Environmental and Food Science Correspondent BODY: An EU 
> scientific 
> committee has cast doubts about the safety of Monsanto's 
> controversial 
> genetically engineered hormone known as BST, which is injected into 
> cows 
> to boost milk yield. The committee on animal health and welfare 
> findings 
> increase the likelihood of renewed trade tensions between the US and 
> Europe 
> and more fallout over gene technology. 
> BST (bovine somatotrophin) is in routine use in the US while 
> Monsanto - the US multinational which developed it - has 
> repeatedly failed to gain access to EU markets with it. 
> Should the EU committee on veterinary measures related to 
> public health endorse the findings within the next week, the 
> likelihood of a trade war sparked by BST is high - especially if 
> the Codex Alimentarius commission, an international body which 
> approves product safety, endorses its safety, as is likely. 
> Some 100 million units of BST have been used in US herds 
> since 1993, with 30 per cent of dairy cows now using the 
> hormone. 
> The animal health and welfare committee found that BST, which 
> is made from a natural growth hormone, should not be injected 
> into cattle. Its report cites increased likelihood of mastitis, 
> foot problems and injection site reactions, which would also 
> lead to welfare problems besides human health risks. It echoes 
> the decision by Canada to ban BST after its expert group 
> identified gaps in data on human and animal safety relating to 
> the hormone. 
> Green MEP Ms Patricia McKenna welcomed the committee's 
> stance. She also cited an Observer report that the company had 
> accessed confidential EU documents on BST. A watchdog body, 
> Consumers' International, had claimed the EU's expert committee 
> on food additives should void its approval of BST because its 
> "objectivity and credibility" had been compromised as a result. 
> Genetic Concern spokesman Mr Quentin Gargan said: "BST 
> increases incidence of mastitis, leads to higher somatic cell 
> counts (known as pus) and elevated levels of insulin growth 
> factor 1 in milk. There are concerns that this factor may be 
> carcinogenic." Animal health problems inevitably translated into 
> high antibiotic use, which could also have implications for 
> humans, he said. However, Mr Declan O'Brien, director of the 
> Animal and Plant Health Association, which represents veterinary 
> drug interests in Ireland, said the findings were further 
> indication of EU decisions on products based on political rather 
> than scientific considerations. 
> It was at variance with the key expert panel, the committee 
> for veterinary medicinal products, he said. This independent 
> group set up by the European Commission through the European 
> Medicines Evaluation Agency had ruled BST was "perfectly safe". 
> However, with an EU moratorium until the end of 1999, renewed 
> political attempts were being made to block BST, he said, 
> despite it naturally occurring in milk. 
> Monsanto said BST had been subject to one of the most intensive 
> "post-approval monitoring programmes" ever conducted by the US 
> Food and Drug Administration. This showed no ill-effects in cows 
> treated with BST or problems arising in products using milk from 
> cows treated with BST, its spokesman said. There was a risk of 
> increased mastitis, requiring careful management, he said. 
> Similarly with BST, "the key is responsible use of the product". 

> ======#====== 

20 ) The Times (London) March 17, 1999, Novartis gives warning
BODY: NOVARTIS, the Swiss drugs and agribusiness group that has developed a
pest-resistant variety of corn, gave 
> warning yesterday that European farmers will lose out if there were
> delays to the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops. The 
> company, which described the opposition to genetically modified 
> food as 
> "irrational", said that US farmers already had a five-year technology 
> advantage in using GM crops. Novartis reported a 16 per cent rise in 
> net 
> income to Swfr6.1 
> billion last year after a 2 per cent rise in sales. 

> ======#====== 
> Earth Times News March 15, 1999 

21) Controversy over use of genetically modified food grows in parts of

-Continued controversy over genetically modified (GM) foods in Austria has

> the Green Party and environmental groups to call for a moratorium on the 
> sowing of GM crops in an effort to block gene technology firms from 
> launching operations in the country through the "EU backdoor." Austria, in 
> defiance of European Union Commission directives, has so far refused to
allow the planting of GM crops. However, the matter is due to go before the 
> Commission within the next three months, after which it is expected that
Austria will be forced to relent. 
> Austria has also bucked European Union rulings over anonymous 
> savings accounts and road tolls, but the debate over GM crops is 
> particularly crucial, for once GM organisms are allowed to be 
> planted in the country there is no turning back, according to a 
> warning from Greenpeace Austria. 
> "Once GM organisms are released into the environment, they 
> cannot be taken back," said the group in a press statement. "And 
> if a catastrophe were to occur, it would already be too late." 
> The Greens have also called on the government to institute a 
> moratorium on GM crops until more research can be done. "As long 
> as it is not certain whether there are effects of genetically 
> altered foods, the precautionary principle must take 
> precedence," said Eva Glaswischnig, spokeswoman for the Vienna 
> Green Party. "Consumers cannot be used as guinea pigs." 
> This month Consumer Protection Minister Barbara Prammer 
> presented a new information brochure on GM foods and emphasized 
> Austria's commitment to block GM organisms until it is proven 
> there are no environmental or health risks involved, but she 
> said the government sees no reason for a moratorium. 
> "The genetic technology industry has not been planning for a 
> long time to attempt to release GM seeds in Austria," she said. 
> However, the Greens, along with Greenpeace Austria and Global 
> 2000, said that without a moratorium the government is likely to 
> capitulate to pressure from the EU and multinational gene-tech 
> firms, who charge that the country's ban is a hindrance to free 
> trade. "From a purely legal point of view, such tests with GM 
> crops can be done at any time now," said Global 2000 spokeswoman 
> Ulli Sima. 
> The issue is further complicated by Austria's continued 
> commitment to organic farming. Ten per cent of total farmland is 
> under organic production, and Austria's 20,000 organic farmers 
> fear that allowing GM crops will endanger their livelihood. 
> Franz Gruber, an organic farmer in eastern Austria, said that it 
> would be impossible to ensure that the planting of GM crops 
> would not ultimately destroy organic farming in Austria. 
> "If GM seeds were released in the neighboring field, I will not 
> be able to guarantee that my products are gene-tech free," he 
> said. "That's why there cannot even be experiments." 
> But there is also growing pressure from within the country to 
> allow the planting of GM crops. Pioneer operates a 3,500-acre 
> (1,400-hectare) agricultural station in Burgenland, and local 
> farming officials fear that Austria's ban will drive the company 
> to set up shop elsewhere, taking away much needed jobs from the 
> area, which is in Austria's poorest province. Paul Rittsteuer, 
> the regional parliament's agriculture spokesman, said that the 
> "eminent interest" of the local economy to keep Pioneer's 
> operations could not be ignored. 
> "We cannot rule out a technological development that is already 
> being used worldwide and particularly in our neighboring 
> countries," he said. 
> The latest controversy follows Greenpeace's recent charges that 
> Agriculture Minister Wilhelm Molterer has been holding secret 
> talks with gene-tech firms Pioneer and AgrEvo over the release 
> of GM seeds in undisclosed locations in Austria. Greenpeace 
> accused Molterer of aiding gene-tech multinationals in using EU 
> regulations to defy existing national laws and the continued 
> opposition to GM crops of Austrian citizens. 
> Molterer denied Greenpeace's charge, saying that there were no 
> "secret talks," but that meetings between the Agriculture 
> Ministry and companies such as Pioneer and AgrEvo were a matter 
> of course. No details of the meetings were released. 
> Pioneer and AgrEvo have said there are no plans for experiments 
> with GM crops in Austria this year and that they would not begin 
> such tests without the knowledge or approval of the national 
> government even if they have the right to do so under EU law. 
> However, if the EU decides that Austria must rescind its ban, 
> Greenpeace said there is no guarantee that Pioneer and AgrEvo 
> will not simply go ahead with introducing GM crops, and it is 
> unclear whether the Austrian government will be able to do 
> anything to stop them 
> ======#====== 
> National Post March 17, 1999 Pg. C08 
22) Monsanto tries to head off brain drain 
BODY: Monsanto Canada Inc. is reversing the brain drain of Canadian
talent to
the United 
> States 
> by opening a $10-million crop development centre at the University of 
> Manitoba, with research projects and accompanying technology to be 
> transferred from California and Georgia. The site will use 
> biotechnology to 
> transfer genes and create improved varieties of canola, flax, 
> potatoes, 
> and wheat - all important crops to Canadian farmers. 'For 
> Monsanto 
> Canada it will be the first facility where we're actually going to be 
> doing 
> transformation, which means we'll be doing the gene splicing right 
> there,' 
> said spokeswoman Adele Pelland. 
> A year in the planning stage, the centre is expected to be 
> open this fall. About 30 research positions will be created 
> initially and the number is expected to climb. 
> The University of Manitoba was selected for several reasons. 
> The province contributed $1-million and the university put up an 
> empty laboratory, which was responsible for developing wheat 
> varieties that resisted the rust disease that wreaked havoc on 
> farmers in the first half of the century. In addition, Monsanto 
> is working with federal researchers at the university to develop 
> a wheat that tolerates Roundup, a herbicide produced by Monsanto 
> that farmers use to control weeds. A canola variety that 
> tolerates the chemical has been very popular in Western Canada. 
> Jim Bole, director of Agriculture Canada's cereal research 
> centre at the university, said Monsanto had been conducting 
> canola research in California, which does not grow a lot of the 
> crop. 'It makes much more sense for them to do this work in 
> Winnipeg,' he said. 
> While some of his 200 staff may be headhunted by Monsanto, 
> Mr. Bole said the benefits of cross-pollination of ideas, access 
> to new technology, and possible joint ventures outweigh the 
> risks. 
> While the centre may not stem the brain drain, it may keep 
> some scientists in Winnipeg and Canada, said Jim Elliot, dean of 
> the agricultural and food science faculty. 'We're hoping that 
> having a major biotechnology company will encourage other 
> biotechs to come and locate in our research park at the 
> university.' 
> ======#====== 
> Chemical & Industry Magazine March 15, 1999 - 

23) Opinion Uncertain future for agricultural R&D 
The UK leads the world in agricultural 
> research, according to a study published recently in Nature (1998, 
> 396, 
> 615). However, funding cuts threaten this enviable record and, in the 
> longer 
> term, could damage the competitiveness of UK agriculture. The study 
> of the 
> international impact of research in different countries was 
> commissioned by 
> the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). It compared 
> 47 
> subject areas, from accountancy to veterinary science, in seven 
> countries - 
> the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, France and England. Using a 
> giant 
> literature database, the study counted the number of times research 
> papers 
> were cited in scientific journals between 1988 and 1996. 
> Not surprisingly the US, arguably the most technologically 
> developed country in the world, dominated the league table 
> coming top in 34 subjects. This reflected the massive 
> investment the US makes in research and development. England 
> came second in the list. Agriculture was one of five subjects 
> in which it led the world. 
> Although the HEFCE study relates to England, the pattern of 
> agricultural research across the whole of the UK follows 
> broadly that of England. Thus there is no reason to believe 
> that the conclusions of the HEFCE study do not apply to the UK 
> as a whole. 
> Across all 47 subjects surveyed, agricultural research was the 
> UK's most successful subject area after pharmacology/pharmacy. 
> This is a record our agricultural scientists can be justifiably 
> proud of. There is no doubt that this has been an important 
> factor in making our farmers among the most productive in the 
> world. Probably the two most significant outcomes of 
> agricultural research are the development of chemical 
> fertilisers and chemical pesticides. 
> However, the UK's lead position is at risk. Even towards the 
> end of the survey period there has been a decreasing emphasis 
> on agricultural research. Probably the most important cut is 
> the abandonment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and 
> Food (MAFF) Postgraduate Agricultural Studentship Scheme. Over 
> several decades, this scheme has trained many agricultural 
> researchers now working in research institutes and higher 
> education. 
> Twenty years ago there was a valid argument for reducing the 
> scheme, because there appeared to be considerable overlap in 
> the topics of studentship projects with those funded by the 
> Agricultural Research Council (ARC). But the ARC became the 
> Agricultural and Food Research Council and later merged with 
> part of the Science and Engineering Research Council to become 
> the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council 
> (BBSRC). This now funds pure biology studentships, dominated by 
> the molecular sciences. So by last year, there was no longer any 
> overlap between the two schemes and clearly no need for further 
> rationalisation. But despite the evolution of two distinct non- 
> overlapping schemes, MAFF terminated the only government scheme 
> funding the training of agricultural researchers. This raises 
> the question - how will future generations of researchers be 
> trained? 
> Other government spending on agricultural research has been 
> reduced. MAFF is disbanding the Sugar Beet Research and 
> Education Committee, which coordinates the spending of the 
> sugar beet levy. The future for sugar beet research looks poor. 
> MAFF spending on cereal research reduced by 0.5M between 1995 
> and 1998. Some of this has been replaced by the R&D spend of 
> the cereals levy body, the Home-Grown Cereals Authority. But 
> this tends to be for short-term problem solving rather than 
> longer-term strategic research. As a consequence, many more 
> scientists are now on short-term contracts. Whereas in 1988 
> short-term contracts were rare in research institutes, now they 
> are commonplace. For example, 43% of BBSRC science staff are on 
> short-term contracts ranging from six months to five years. This 
> threatens research continuity, and the lack of a recognisable 
> career structure is forcing research staff to look elsewhere to 
> get on. 
> Some changes are the result of the drive towards privatisation 
> in recent years. For example, researchers in the former 
> government Agricultural Development and Advisory Service are 
> driven by the imperative of bringing in funding to keep their 
> jobs rather than writing articles or disseminating research 
> findings. 
> Even the word 'agriculture' is being dropped in some 
> universities where departments of agriculture have become 
> subsumed into biological schools or ecological institutes. 
> Part of the problem is that Europe now produces surplus food 
> and the temptation is to believe that less agricultural 
> research is needed than in previous decades. But surely the BSE 
> debacle shows how crucial it is to maintain a pool of 
> agricultural researchers to cope with unforeseen problems in 
> food production. 
> It is unlikely that these changes will be reversed. However, it 
> is essential that we continue to attract able young scientists 
> to agricultural research and give them the training they will 
> require. The simplest way to do this would be to restore the 
> MAFF training scheme. Alternatively, it could be done through 
> the BBSRC, but we would then need a way of ensuring that all 
> areas of strategic agricultural research are represented, not 
> just the molecular sciences. 
> As the 20th century draws to a close, the government must re- 
> examine its approach to training agricultural researchers or 
> the UK risks losing its world lead. 
> Peter Kettlewell is Reader in Crop Physiology at Harper Adams 
> University College, Newport, Shropshire, UK. 

> ======#======