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GE - GMO News 03/30

GMO News 03/30 
1) Biotech Revolution To Reshape E.U. Seed, Pesticide Indus 
2) Rhone-Poulenc Agro and the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology (IMA) Sign a
Research Collaborative Agreement in the Field of Rice Biotechnology 
3) Govt called on to start GM working group for consumers 
5)  Mitsubishi Chemical: Focusing on Info, Electronics and Biotechnology 
6) Meeting Africa's agricultural needs 
7) [Somerfield] Superstore tells public to eat GM foods ... or starve 
8) A  BUMPER crop of creative uses for genetically Monsantified tomatoes. 

> DJ 03/30 
1) Biotech Revolution To Reshape E.U. Seed, Pesticide Indus 
By Daniel Balint-Kurti LONDON (Dow Jones)-
-Farming's biotechnology 
> revolution is pitting farm supply firms against a new breed of life 
> science 
> company that promises farmers a one-stop shop for gene-modified seeds 
> and 
> matching herbicides. If genetically modified seed sales take off in 
> the 
> European Union, industry experts said they expect the biotechnology 
> giants 
> to increasingly target smaller seed and pesticide companies for 
> acquisition. Life science firms hope to boost sales of 
> gene-modified 
> seeds resistant to their own non-selective herbicides. That could cut 
> out traditional pesticide manufacturers and enable life science 
> firms to profit by selling seeds and pesticides as a package. 
> Biotech companies argue that crops modified for resistance to 
> non-selective herbicides - so called because they offer blanket 
> protection against weeds - are typically healthier and better 
> yielding than traditional varieties. The new seeds include 
> soybeans and cotton engineered by Monsanto Corp. (MTC) for 
> resistance to its Roundup herbicide, and rapeseed seed produced 
> by Hoechst Schering AgrEvo GmbH that is resistant to its 
> herbicide Liberty. AgrEvo is a joint venture between Hoechst AG 
> (HOE) and Schering AG (G.SCH). Analysts said makers of 
> selective pesticides, such as Bayer AG (G.BAY) and BASF AG 
> (G.BAS), could lose out if the new seeds prove as popular in the 
> E.U. as in North America, where around 38% of soybeans harvested 
> last year were resistant to Roundup. 
> Competition over herbicide-resistant crops has encouraged 
> pesticide companies such as Monsanto and Dupont & Co. (DD) to 
> move into the genetically modified seeds business. Now, their 
> ownership of key patents on methods of genetic engineering is 
> making them natural leaders in the seeds market. "I think even 
> the small plant breeding companies will go over to the big 
> groups in some way," said Paul Vigra, chief spokesman for 
> Swedish agribusiness Svalof Weibull AB. 
> Life Science Firms Seen Dominating Bio-Crop Industry 
> Svalof Weibull's recent history shows how seed companies can 
> be sidelined if they don't embrace genetic engineering. 
> In 1994, it was supplying up to 70% of seed to Canada's 
> rapeseed farmers. By the end of 1998, its share had plummeted to 
> around 20%, because of the availability of new genetically 
> modified rapeseed varieties. "We lost market share in Canada 
> ... because we were two years late with Roundup-Ready herbicide 
> varieties," Vigra said. "We listened to the European discussion 
> and were not updated with the Canadian one." 
> The E.U. has adopted a much more cautious approach to 
> genetically modified crops than Canada or the U.S., imposing 
> tighter restrictions on the development and sale of gene- 
> modified seeds. 
> The downturn in Svalof Weibull's fortunes helped pave the way 
> for its recent acquisition by BASF and Swedish agribusiness 
> Svenska Lantmannen. Now, said Vigra, the firm is set to make a 
> comeback. 
> Licensing technology from AgrEvo and Monsanto, Svalof Weibull 
> has developed two herbicide-resistant varieties of rapeseed. It 
> also plans to market a potato genetically engineered to produce 
> starch for use in the paper industry. Whether Europe's other 
> seed companies will be forced to join up with the big life 
> science firms depends largely on the commercial success of 
> genetically modified seeds in the E.U. That is in the balance 
> because of consumer concerns over the safety of genetically 
> modified food. 
> AgrEvo spokesman Michael Oelck said industry consolidation 
> could swallow up some of the largest firms in the sector. 
> "Our view is we will have four to five worldwide companies 
> (selling genetically modified seeds)," he said. 
> The biggest life science firms that sell both genetically 
> modified seeds and pesticides include AgrEvo, Dupont, Monsanto, 
> Swiss firm Novartis AG (Z.NOV) and the U.K.'s Zeneca Group PLC 
> (ZEN). 
> Bayer Keeps Genetic Modification At Arm's Length 
> One pesticide firm keeping the science of genetic modification 
> at arm's length is Bayer, which prefers to bet its future on the 
> continuing market dominance of selective pesticides. 
> While the market for herbicide-resistant seeds is expected to 
> grow, selective herbicides are likely to account for 80% of the 
> global crop protection market in five years time, said Bayer 
> spokesman Jorgen Frohling. 
> "It's our conviction that biotech will play a role within the 
> next five years but we see that this role will not become a 
> dominant role," he said. "From my point of view there's not a 
> severe restructuring needed." The increased use of genetically 
> modified crops could even benefit the chemical crop protection 
> business, said Frohling. 
> As genetic engineering is applied more to improving plants' 
> output traits, such as the milling quality of wheat or the 
> starch content of potatoes, crops will become more valuable to 
> farmers, leading to greater investment in crop protection 
> chemicals, he said. 
> Bayer is forging ahead with new acquisitions. Last year, it 
> purchased Zeneca's U.K. cereal seed treatment business, as well 
> as a 50% stake in Crompton & Knowles Corp's (CNK) Gustafson seed 
> treatment business in the U.S. But Bayer will have to fight 
> for market share with the world's other big pesticide 
> manufacturers that are spearheading the biotechnology 
> revolution. Monsanto and Dupont have undergone the most rapid 
> expansion of all. While Monsanto had no direct involvement in 
> the seed business until 1993, it has since invested billions of 
> dollars in acquiring seed businesses such as Cargill Inc.'s 
> international seed operations and Unilever PLC's (UL) U.K.-based 
> Plant Breeding International Cambridge Ltd. 
> Similarly, Dupont recently agreed to buy Pioneer Hi-Bred 
> International Inc. (PHB), a seed company with an estimated 45% 
> share of the U.S. corn market. -By Daniel Balint-Kurti 
> 44-171-832-9561; 
> (END) DOW JONES NEWS 03-30-99 

> ======#====== 
> PR Newswire March 30, 1999 
2) Rhone-Poulenc Agro and the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology (IMA) Sign a
Research Collaborative Agreement in the Field of Rice Biotechnology 
Rhone-Poulenc Agro and the Singapore-based Institute of Molecular 
> Biology (IMA) will today sign a Collaborative Research Agreement on 
> genetic engineering of disease resistance in rice and functional 
> genomics 
> of rice. The agreement The objective of this agreement is to 
> discover 
> new genes for resistance to fungal and bacterial diseases in rice, 
> which 
> are the main causes of yield loss in rice cultivation. Research 
> will focus on isolating key resistance genes and understanding 
> the interactions between plants and pathogens. Functional 
> genomics will enable researchers to develop tools to enhance the 
> yield potential and the agronomic and nutritional qualities of 
> rice. The use of new rice varieties designed by genetic 
> engineering techniques will reduce reliance on conventional crop 
> protection products. The products resulting from this agreement 
> will be commercialized by both parties, through a joint venture 
> company to be established and based in Singapore. 
> The production of new rice varieties, which are disease 
> resistant and have higher yield potential, will meet growing 
> demand for rice in Asian countries. With planted acreage 
> stabilized at 150 million hectares, Asian countries account for 
> 90% of rice consumed worldwide. Current consumption is 
> estimated at 550 million tons and is expected to increase to 700 
> million tons by the year 2010. 
> In terms of value, rice is by far the leading crop in the 
> Asian plant protection market. Its estimated market is $2.8 
> billion and ranks fourth on the global market. 
> For Rhone-Poulenc Agro, this agreement marks a key milestone 
> in the development of its plant biotechnology policy. It 
> reflects the strategy adopted by the company which is aimed at 
> strengthening its presence and role in Asia, both in the field 
> of conventional crop protection products and in plant 
> biotechnology which is currently taking off in Asia. The 
> development of this strategy has led to the establishment of 
> local partnerships to promote the development of customer- 
> focused distribution networks, as well as to access local 
> expertise and innovation. 10% of Rhone-Poulenc Agro's 1998 
> turnover came from the Asia-Pacific countries, which account for 
> 26% of the global plant protection market. With operations in 
> 15 countries, Rhone-Poulenc Agro has 7 formulation plants, the 
> most recent of which was inaugurated in Vietnam in 1998 and a 
> rice research center in Japan. In 1998, Rhone-Poulenc Agro 
> posted a global turnover of FF 12.697 billion. 
> This agreement which comprises R & D programs and 
> facilitates the commercialization of R & D results exemplifies 
> the focus of all R & D projects undertaken by IMA, which is to 
> select projects based on their long-term economic impact. 
> Future commercialization of the products will give value to R & 
> D results derived from the projects undertaken and will fulfill 
> key objectives set by the institute. This agreement without any 
> doubt marks a key milestone in the institute's short history of 
> only 3 years. Rhone-Poulenc S.A. (NYSE: RP) is a leading 
> life sciences company growing through innovations in human, 
> plant and animal health and through its specialty chemical 
> subsidiary Rhodic. With sales of FF 86.8 billion in 1998, the 
> company employs 65,000 staff in 160 countries worldwide. Note to 
> Editors: This press release was issued earlier today in France 
> by Rhone-Poulenc S.A. (NYSE: RP). 
> SOURCE Rhone-Poulenc Agro 
> CONTACT: Nicole GUIDICELLI of Rhone-Poulenc Agro, (33) (0) 
> 4 72 85 27 64, or Chin LAI KENG of Institute of Molecular 
> Agrobiology, (65) 872 7024 
> ======#====== 
> FED: 
3) Govt called on to start GM working group for consumers 
> CANBERRA, March 30 AAP - 
The New South Wales Farmers' Association  today 
> called for a federal government working group to inform consumers 
> about  genetic modification (GM) of food. NSW Farmers' grains director 
> Glenn 
> Dalton said consumers must be able to make choices based on a solid 
> understanding of issues about GM's benefits and safety before new 
> labelling 
> changes come into effect in May. "The new GM labelling 
> regulations will 
> have no meaning to consumers, particularly the 
> label that says "may contain" genetically modified organisms," 
> Mr Dalton said in a statement. 
> "The rapid expansion of GM research means that before long 
> just about every processed food product "may contain" 
> genetically modified organisms." His call follows growing 
> food and agricultural industry concerns that consumers could 
> reject genetically modified products because of a 
> misunderstanding about the dangers and benefits the products 
> could hold. Mr Dalton said his group had asked parliamentary 
> health secretary Grant Tambling to convene a working group that 
> would include the Australian Consumers Association, the 
> Australian Food and Grocery Council, the Australia-New Zealand 
> Food Council and farmers. 
> He said the working group should look at all issues of 
> consumer education, including the costs and practicality of 
> labelling products. "There is a growing tendency among some 
> politicians and in some of the anti- genetic movements to want 
> consumer choice without mentioning the cost of consumer choice," 
> he said. 
> "It would be very expensive to segregate GM and non-GM 
> ingredients throughout the food chain to give 100 per cent 
> accuracy to labelled processed foodstuffs on the supermarket 
> shelf. The cost of doing so will inevitably be passed on to 
> consumers." 

> ======#====== 
Mar 30 
The Takara Shuzo Co. 
> (TSE:2531), Japan's top manufacturer of distilled spirits, would 
> undertake inspections to determine whether soybeans imported by 
> Mitsubishi 
> Corp. (TSE:8058) were genetically engineered, the company announced 
> Monday. The inspections would start with soybeans to be imported 
> from the 
> U.S. in June, Takara officials said. A joint firm to be set up by 
> the two 
> companies would issue 
> a " genetic engineering-free" certificate for imported soybeans, 
> with genetically engineered content of no more than 5%. 
> The partners might extend such inspections to other kinds of 
> imported agricultural produce such as corn and rapeseed in the 
> near future. They may also offer the service to a broad 
> range of outside companies, such as manufacturers and trading 
> houses, the officials said. 
> Mitsubishi imports 350,000 tons of soybeans a year from the 
> U.S. The trading giant hopes that commissioning the 
> inspection work to a third party such as Takara will demonstrate 
> the safety of its imported farm products. (Nikkei) 

> ======#====== 
> COMLINE Daily News Chemicals and Materials March 30, 1999
5)  Mitsubishi Chemical: Focusing on Info, Electronics and Biotechnology 
> BODY: Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will start a new managerial 
> structure in 
> June 1999, by introducing an executive director system in 
> preparation for 
> transformation to a holding company. At the same time, the company 
> needs 
> to reform its R&D unit in line with this basic policy. Currently, 
> the 
> company is discussing the new structure, including the position of 
> the R&D 
> organization, co-operation with group companies, and selection of R&D 
> themes. The company intends to make a decision regarding them, and 
> put them 
> into practice as quickly as possible. 
> At present, the R&D unit is responsible for company-wide R&D 
> activities based on the company's strategies. From now onwards, 
> research to support group companies will be added as its new 
> role. Of course, each group company will maintain the minimum 
> necessary R&D functions, but it is the role of the company's R&D 
> team to coordinate them. 
> To be more specific, the R&D unit could become an independent 
> company. The ideal form of the unit, according to the company, 
> is that it gives support to group companies' R&D activities and, 
> on top of this, tackle basic research beyond the framework of 
> the group and companies. 
> What is important here is selection of R&D themes. It would 
> be difficult to determine which themes are to be stressed and 
> allocated more R&D resources. It will also be an important 
> factor to tighten co-operation with group companies, including 
> the exchange of human resources. It will also be necessary to 
> introduce the performance-based pay system to improve 
> efficiency. One of the strategic targets for fiscal 1999 is 
> R&D for business expansion in the information electronics field. 
> This includes expansion of memories, electronic chemicals and 
> compound semiconductors and toners for printers and copiers. In 
> addition to them, the company also stresses displays, 
> communications equipment, batteries and other fields where it 
> can exploit its material development ability as a chemical 
> manufacturer. 
> In the biotechnology field, the company will reinforce its 
> ties with Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, 
> Mitsubishi Chemical Safety Institute, and Biotechnology 
> Laboratory. The company intends to approach life sciences 
> mainly by means of combination between biotechnology and 
> organic synthesis. For the purpose of risk hedging and business 
> expansion, the company will also emphasize ecology. 
> Amid the company-wide restructuring, the company will 
> allocate JPY54 bn ($ 450 mn), down 10% year-on-year, to R&D 
> (including the pharmaceutical field) in fiscal 1999. By 
> narrowing R&D themes according to actual demand, the company 
> intends to seek the most efficient use of financial and human 
> resources. Ref: Japan Chemical Week, 03/25/99, p. 04 

> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 30, 1999, 

6) Meeting Africa's agricultural needs 
BODY: From Mr Philip S. Angell. Sir, Dr Hans Herren, 
> director general of the International Center of Insect Physiology 
> and 
> Ecology in Nairobi, states that "too narrow an approach to food 
> security 
> is dangerous" about using genetically modified foods in African 
> agriculture (" Genetic engineering will not feed hungry, say 
> Africans", 
> March 16). At Monsanto, we completely agree. No life sciences company 
> claims genetic engineering is the solution to the 
> developmental challenges facing African agriculture. Rather, we 
> have only ever claimed that biotechnology is one tool in a 
> comprehensive, integrated and culturally sensitive solution to 
> African agricultural challenges. 
> More research must be done on food and cash crops grown 
> commonly in the developing world - and we are doing that. In 
> Kenya, for instance, we have developed sweet potato strains 
> resistant to diseases now destroying up to 50 per cent of the 
> crop. We are also working on improving yields, pest and disease 
> resistance for African crops such as rice, cassava and maize. 
> When integrated, managed and implemented in ways sensitive to 
> African circumstances, these crops may help meet African food, 
> environmental and economic development needs. One example 
> demonstrates how biotechnology can help meet critical world 
> health needs. Monsanto has developed a method for enhancing beta 
> carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A, in a variety of oil seed 
> crops. A teaspoon of oil from these plants will provide the 
> daily adult requirement of Vitamin A. We recently donated this 
> technology to a partnership comprised of the US Agency for 
> International Development and other non-governmental agencies 
> for use in the developing world. 
> This is important because tens of thousands of children in 
> the developing world today go blind and suffer other related 
> health problems from a vitamin A deficiency. Using this 
> technology, farmers can grow crops they have always grown using 
> traditional methods for foods that contain sufficient vitamin A 
> to dramatically improve the lives of millions. Also, these seeds 
> can be sustainably farmed without new and costly healthcare, 
> transportation and processing infrastructures. 
> Finally, no farmer anywhere is forced to buy genetically 
> modified seeds. Unless they deliver benefits - yield, cost, 
> environmental and so on - beyond current agricultural 
> practices, why would a farmer buy them? In the end it is a 
> matter of choice and who makes choices about quality, yield and 
> potential profitability. We think farmers are most qualified to 
> make this choice. Philip S. Angell, director, corporate 
> communications, Monsanto, Washington DC, US 

> ======#====== 
> Herald Express (Torquay) March 30, 1999 
SECTION: Agriculture: Genetically Modified Food, 

7) [Somerfield] Superstore tells public to eat GM foods ... or starve 

BODY: SOMERFIELD store bosses are refusing to back down over an 
> "eat GM or starve" warning which has left South Devon's anti-genetics 
> campaigners irate. The supermarket chain's quality assurance boss 
> Stephen Ridge sparked off a row after he wrote to West Alvington 
> parish  councillor Jean Evans telling her that if she tried to avoid 
> genetically  modified food she would starve. And a spokesman for the
chain - 
> which  has stores throughout most South Devon towns - has stood by his
> and  said: "To  put it in plain English this is what the case is." 
> She said GM and non-GM soya and maize are so intermingled that 
> it is impossible to guarantee GM-free status. 
> Somerfield planned to label all food containing GM additives 
> - but admitted that could end up including virtually everything 
> on the stores' shelves. Mrs Evans, who lives in Lower Street, 
> West Alvington, said she had been "absolutely gobsmacked" when 
> she had received Somerfield's reply to her letter asking about 
> the store's policy over GM food. 
> The letter from Mr Ridge said: "Whilst I have every sympathy 
> with the position you have decided to take, i.e. avoiding eating 
> any genetically modified ingredients or foods, I regret to say 
> in the near future you will starve." 
> Mrs Evans, 53, is co-ordinator of Kingsbridge Action on 
> Genetic Engineering and had written to the Bristol-based store 
> chain with 1,300 supermarkets across the country as part of the 
> group's campaign. 
> She said she and other campaigners were fighting for a choice 
> to eat GM food or not. 
> She explained: "I was so annoyed that it had come in the back 
> door that way and I was eating it and I didn't know it." 
> The Somerfield spokesman said Mr Ridge's message had been 
> "blunt" but it was a fact, and unless people ate only 
> organically-grown vegetables they would have to risk consuming 
> GM food. 
> "We are over a barrel," she added as she said that the store 
> had pressed the Government year ago to ensure that GM additives 
> were segregated, but nothing happened. 
> She said the store is asking its suppliers wherever possible 
> to use non-GM food and label any that has even the smallest GM 
> ingredients. 
> ======#====== 
> The Independent (London) March 30, 1999  
8) A  BUMPER crop of creative uses for genetically Monsantified tomatoes.
> Lucrezia Borgia - boeuf a la BSE, lait au E coli, et tomates 
> Monchante 
> (Sue Johnson). Self- cooling gazpacho (Alan Brooker). Prizes for a 
> three-legged race (Joan Vinnicombe). Feed Wyatt & Morgan at the OK 
> Corral, 
> make Two-Martyrs Earp (BB); Agent Tomato, born-again military 
> defoliant 
> (Derek Holmes). Lone Ranger and Tomto (Peter Thomas); Redskins 
> starring 
> opposite John Wayne. If skinless, serve at bar mitzvahs (Tony 
> Brandon). 
> Skins for tom- toms (Harold Smith). Bulbs for red-light 
> districts (Tony McCoy O'Grady). Book marks for pulp fiction 
> (JV). Red noses for elephants (Peter Houghton). Bomb Salad 
> Hussein (James A Kelly). Paint pillar boxes, phone booths and 
> London buses (Octavia Leigh). Make tomato fetchup (JR Gore). 
> Sentence to life in the can (JAK). Use Alsatian genes to get 
> Rin-Tin-Tinned tomatoes; mountain goat genes to get a 
> tomatahorn; bullfighter genes to get a tomatador; 
> palaeontologist genes to get a Tomatosaurus rex (PT). Cross with 
> a kipper to breed red herrings (Colin Archer). Splice in 
> cannabis DNA for "salad daze" (Max Beran). Polymerise with a GM 
> lemon and a GM lime to make insect-repellent traffic lights 
> (SJ). Cross with GM soya to make Huckleberry Finn (JRG). Force- 
> feed robots to get automata (Mike Gifford). Tomato Computers - 
> a rival for Apple and Apricot? (John O'Byrne). Throw at 
> unmodified geneticists in the stocks on village greens (BB). 
> Programme to throw themselves at the stock in country kitchens 
> (Susan Tomes). Grow contoured, to fit comically relieved noses 
> (Eric Bridgstock). Use to transfuse victims ready for vegetarian 
> vampires' visits (AB). Cook with cloned lamb; call it Dolly 
> mixture (Matthew White). Edible earmuffs (Shirley Edmundson). 
> With added nuclear strike capability, enable arms 
> manufacturers to qualify for EU farming subsidies (Martin 
> Brown). In nuclear warheads, 2lb is a critical mass (Andrew 
> Duncan). Employ as saucy comedians, pureetan ministers or 
> stalkers (PH). As snooker balls with six open-mouthed Monsanto 
> executives as pockets (BB). As tennis balls for unseeded players 
> (JV). Serve at Wimbledon; sip a tomato deuce at 40 -40 (ST). 
> And finally: Drew Barrow notes that the BBC has been using 
> six-pip GMT on the hour for years. Peter Thomas, Alan Brooker, 
> Matthew White take home a Chambers Dictionary of Quotations. 
> Three more for suggestions for appropriate collective nouns. A 
> gaggle of geese, but how about accountants, Creativity 
> contributors, deep-sea divers...? e-mail Loki.Valhalla@ 
> or write to Creativity, Features, The 
> Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL by 8 April. On 6 
> April, automated phone scripts. Readers' meetings may be set up. 
> Please say if you would like to attend. 

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