Genetically Manipulated Food News

3 December 98

Table of Contents

India: Cremate Monsanto!
Biotechnology industry supports objections to GM food programme
Berkeley Students and others Wary of Corporate Influence in Education
Please sign the Consumer Right to Know Petition
Monsanto's New Drug
Scottish scientist may be first to clone embryo
Kirton confirms US food bullying
Biotech Companies Face Backlash If No Ethical Debate
Monsanto May Sell Nutrasweet Division
Monsanto Launches Chinese Language Web Site
Chinese Scientists Transplant Fish Genes into Beet
China Engineers Super Tomato With Fish Genes
Pioneer establishes GE research in China
Industrialization Of Genetic Engineering Projects Urged

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Date: 28 Nov 1998 09:37:29 -0600
From: MichaelP

India: Cremate Monsanto!

If you have already seen this, pass it around anyway. I've taken the liberty of re-justifying the text, and correcting a few typos.

If you want to be informed of what is going on around the world on this matter, please send a message to with the message on the text body. This way you will be informed about what is going on in India and in other countries. (The list will be active a few hours this message gets around). Please DON'T try e-mailing ; they're busy organizing a virtual funeral.

Cheers MP

Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 17:48:27 +0530
Subject: Cremate Monsanto!!

Dear friends,

Monsanto's field trials in Karnataka will be reduced to ashes, starting on Saturday. Two days ago the Minister of Agriculture of Karnataka gave a press conference where he was forced by the journalists to disclose the three sites where field trials with Bt cotton are being conducted (for background information about the trials, see appendix 2 at the bottom). KRRS activists have already contacted the owners of these fields, to explain them which action will be taken, and for what reasons, and to let them know that the KRRS will cover any loses they will suffer. On Saturday the 28th of November, at midday, thousands of farmers will occupy and burn down the three fields in front of the cameras, in an open, announced action of civil disobedience.

These actions will start a campaign of direct action by farmers against biotechnology, called Operation 'Cremation Monsanto', which will not stop until all the corporate killers like Monsanto, Novartis, Pioneer etc leave the country. Farmers' leaders from the states of Maharastra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh (states where Monsanto is also conducting field trials) were yesterday in Bangalore to prepare the campaign.

The campaign will run under the following slogans:

along with a more specific message for all those who have invested on Monsanto:


We know that stopping biotechnology in India will not be of much help to us if it continues in other countries, since the threats that it poses do not stop at the borders. We also think that the kind of actions that will be going on in India have the potential not only to kick those corporate killers out of our country: if we play our cards right at global level and coordinate our work, these actions can also pose a major challenge to the survival of these corporations in the stock markets. Who wants to invest in a mountain of ashes, in offices that are constantly being squatted (and if necessary even destroyed) by activists?

For these reasons, we are making an international call for direct action against Monsanto and the rest of the biotech gang. This call for action will hopefully inspire all the people who are already doing a brilliant work against biotech, and many others who so far have not been very active on the issue, to join hands in a quick, effective worldwide effort.

This is a very good moment to target Monsanto, since it has run out of cash in its megalomaniac attempt to monopolise the life industry in record time. It is going now through a hard time of layoffs and restructuration in a desperate effort to survive, since it cannot pay its bills. It is also a good time because several recent scandals (like the pulping of the Monsanto edition of The Ecologist, the whole "Terminator Technology" affaire, the illegal introduction of Bt Cotton in Zimbabwe, etc) have contributed to its profile as corporate killer, which, being the creators of Vietnam War's Agent Orange and rBHG, was already good enough, anyhow.

We are hence making a call to:

We are making this call for action on the line of Peoples' Global Action (PGA), a worldwide network of peoples' movements, in order to emphasize the political analysis beyond our opposition to biotechnology. This analysis does not only take environmental concerns into account, and is not limited to the defense of food security - it attacks neoliberal globalisation as a whole, the WTO regime as its most important tool, and the global power structures (G8, NATO, etc) as the root of all these problems. You will find the complete political analysis on the manifesto of the PGA, which you will find in the web page

The fact that this call for action takes place on line with PGA also has other implications:

If you want to be informed of what is going on around the world on this matter, please send a message to with the message subscribe pga-ge on the text body. This way you will be informed about what is going on in India and in other countries. (The list will be active a few hours after we send this message).

Please, try not write back to this address, since we will be madly busy in the next days with the mobilisations. However, if you have good contacts with international media (CNN, BBC, TV5, etc) and want to help us to get them here to cover the bonfire at Monsanto's field please let us know as soon as possible.

Friendly greetings,

Prof. Nanjundaswamy
President, Karnataka State Farmers Association


Appendix 1: "Police Protection to all American Companies in Bangalore City", article appeared in "Samykta Karnataka", November 25th

Police Protection to all American Companies in Bangalore City

Bangalore Nov. 25th

It has come to light that the American Ambassador in Dehli has written to the Government of the State of Karnataka asking to provide a strong police protection to all American companies in the city.

Pointing out the previous repeated attacks on American companies by 'miscreants', the Ambassador has requested the State Government to create an atmosphere without fear and anxiety for them to work.

He has stressed the need for a special security for companies related to science and technology and also the their hundreds of foreign companies in the city.

Tight Security for Monsanto

Anticipating attack on the offices of Monsanto in Bangalore, tight security has been provided from today, top police sources confirmed.

Police have said in their note that they are providing security for the company owning the Terminator Technology and having the right to sell seeds which do not germinate for the second time. In a city where most of the TNCs are based, the present developments have made them to work with fear and anxiety.

(Translated from Kannada)


Appendix 2: Monsanto under siege in India, message sent on 23rd November 1998

**please distribute as widely as possible**

Dear friends,

On Monday the 16th the public was informed by Indian newspapers that Monsanto (well known in India for the Terminator Technology) has been conducting 40 field trials with genetically manipulated cotton across five Indian states for the last three months. Monsanto is testing a hybrid cotton seed that has been genetically engineered to produce the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) enzyme. The permission granted by the federal government in Delhi pertains the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andrah Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Now that peoples' movements are starting to mobilise on this matter, the same central government that granted the permission is inviting Monsanto to leave the country.

Monsanto has formed a joint venture with Mahyco (a 30 years old seed company) to carry out these field trials. According to the media, Monsanto now owns 26 percent of Mahyco.

In the rest of the message I include some excerpts of the newspaper coverage of this affaire. We will keep you informed of the developments in this part of the world, which will most probably include a number of nonviolent direct actions to burn down the genetically modified crops and kick Monsanto physically out of the country. We encourage you to do similar actions all over the world maybe we can make Monsanto's shareholders feel our pressure reflected on the value of their stocks.

Friendly greetings,

Prof. Nanjundaswamy President, Karnataka State Farmers Association 'Curiously though agriculture is a state subject, Karnataka Government seems unaware of the trials going on in the State. Agriculture Minister C. Byre Gowda admitted that he had been informend of the ongoing trials but was unaware of where they were being undertaken in Karnataka or in Maharashtra.' (The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, cover page, 16th November)

The trials started three months ago although the 'Ministry of Science and Technology has admitted that it does not have the requisite regulatoy regimen to assess the risk of dealing with such transgenic material for which biosafty guidelines have only now been issued.' (The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, cover page, 18th November).

In that sense, the University of Agriculture Science (UAS) Bangalore warned that 'The genetic modification involved in geneticlly engineered hybrid seeds is a concealed one that cannot be ascertaiened with existing regulations of the seed act and quarantine.' (ibid.) B.R. Hedge, Director of Research at UAS, affirmed that 'The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) was only now starting to look at ways which regulatory mechnisms should be put in place to check the clandestine import of such genetic material. Nevertheless, for the moment we have nothing ready' (The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, page 9, 18th November)

The KRRS has issued a deadline to the State Government and Monsanto to disclose the places where the trials are being conducted and the exact description of the seeds that are being tested. '"Monsanto should reveal immediately where the trials are being conducted" failing which "direct action would follow on the company's office in Malleswaram" he [Prof. Nanjundaswamy] threatened. "The government can foist 100 cases of attempt to murder [against us], but we will throw it [Monsanto] out... first from Karnataka, next from Maharashtra" ... The former professor of law wondered how the State's Agriculture Minister could be unaware of the trials. "The Government cannot continue for three minutes" considering its irresponsible behaviour, he said'. (The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, page 4, 20th November) 'Monsanto will have to leave the country within a week. Otherwise we will be forced to throw them out. We have given a day's ultimatum to the company to furnish details about the seed trials undertaken in the state and the country.' (Prof. Nanjundasway in The Times of India, Bangalore edition, page 5 20th November).

Although the field trials are testing BT cotton, the Indian press and politiciancs seem to be rather confused and are mixing up this issue with the terminator technology, which has been used by opponents of Monsanto as an example of the destructive potential of this corporation. However, this confusion is making it easier for Monsanto to reject any accusation by denying the use of this technology. Here are some statements about this issue taken from the last days press.

'Second and Third World markets are the main targets for the terminator seed.' William Phelps, Spokesman, Department of Agriculture, USA (quoted in The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, cover page, 18 November)

'It is not merly the economic factors that threaten the poor farmers of the world, but it is nature of the Terminator gene itself, since the pollen from the crops carrying the Terminator will infect the fields of farmers who either reject, or cannot afford the technology.' (UAS, quoted in The Indian Express, Bangalore edition, cover page, 18 November)

'This is a terminator of biodiversity, terminator of food security. It is a damaging technology because pollination pollution can render all indigenous varieties sterile. This gene will slowly remove all characteristics of germination from seeds. This means the harvest seeds cannot be used for sowing during the next seseason. It will also force seed dependency on farmers who cannot afford to buy seeds. Monoculture was introduced in the country in 1965 with an aim to provide food security. When Green Revolution Technology introduced monoculture it was thought the method would be very effective. Terminatorgene is being dubbed as a second Green Revolution Technology. This, too, will prove ineffective. Genetically modified seeds are polluting the local species. It will not solve the food problem, in fact it will terminate food security along with biodiversity.' (Prof. Nanjundaswamy, quoted in The Times of India, Bangalore edition, page 5, 20th November)

The sincerity of Monsanto can be easily assessed by the usual roguish reply it gave to the critics: 'Monsanto will only bring to India, products and technologies which are consistent with what India wants and its laws aprove.... Monsanto has not, and will not, bring to India any technology that will adversely affect the environment, current agricuture practices and force farmers to use any technology it provides.' (Monsanto statement quoted in Deccan Herald, Bangalore edition, page 9, 21th November)

Yesterday the Union Minister for Rural Development, Babagouda Patil, declared that 'Monsanto wil be asked to leave India' (headline, The Times of India, Bangalore edition, page 5, 23 November).

'He said that he recieved Information that Monsanto is developing and conducting field trials on the "terminator gene" seeds at a private farm in Ranebennur taluk of Haveri district. "I have informed the Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister", he said. He said he knew the complications arising out of the issue due to WTO stipulations. "But the government will not compromise on this issue as crores of farmers' lives will be in danger. The terminator gene seed will pose a serious threat to Indian agriculture." The Union cabinet is expected to deliberate on the issue besides initiating measures to close Monsanto's buisness operations in the country... He said that the Center would not hesitate to withdraw from WTO if its provisions threaten our very existence.' (The Times of India, Bangalore edition, page 5 23rd November)

Date: 28 Nov 1998 16:06:49 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)

Biotechnology industry supports objections to GM food programme

The Irish Times © Copyright 1998

The fallout over this week's programme in RTE's Big Science television series has increased, with the Irish biotechnology industry and a leading research agency supporting claims by the biotechnology company [ Monsanto ] that it was unfair and inaccurate.

The US multinational has asked RTE to outline how it intends to repair damage to the company caused by the programme entitled Safe Harvest which focused on crop production and genetically modified (GM) foods. The complaint to RTE's director general, Mr Bob Collins, has been supported by the Irish Bioindustry Association.

BioResearch Ireland, which has research units in five universities, has also submitted its objections to the State agency Forfas, which advises on science and technology policy and financially supported the Big Science series.

A Monsanto spokesman said it was awaiting a reply from RTE. If this was not satisfactory, a complaint would be made to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. The programme's makers have defended its contents, insisting it was not an attempt to denigrate Monsanto or biotechnology.

Monsanto's main objection, said its Irish business manager, Dr Patrick O'Reilly, was the absence of representatives of the biotechnology industry or regulatory authorities charged with monitoring and approving this technology from a human and environmental health point of view. "It also paints a picture of organic farming as a provider of food for the developing world which is dangerously misleading."

IBIA director Mr Matt Moran said he was "shocked to see a programme purporting to promote science being so totally imbalanced". But Green Party TD Mr Trevor Sargent accused Monsanto of "throwing their weight around, just as they have done in agriculture", as it was dissatisfied with reliance on agriculturalists' views.

Safe Harvest producer-director Ms Moira Sweeney said it was making "a passionate case for biodiversity" and highlighting the role of farmers, who may be overlooked in a race towards using this new technology. It looked at other technologies and different forms of harvesting, and interviewed farmers using Monsanto technology.

It was not, she said, an endorsement of organic farming. Even the most radical voice, Dr Vandana Shiva, accepted there was a place for considered application of biotechnology with a democratic input. But given their objections, they now accepted there was a case for including the views of biotechnologists and a Monsanto representative.

Date: 30 Nov 1998 20:45:29 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)
Monday November 30 6:50 PM ET

Berkeley Students and others Wary of Corporate Influence in Education

By Mary Jane Otto , Daily Californian (U. California-Berkeley) via U-WIRE

(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- Students are drawn to UC Berkeley because of its standing as a public institution, representing an open exchange of ideas, independent research and uncensored academic dialogue.

What many of these students may not know is that corporations are becoming increasingly present on this campus and others across the country -- a presence that could ultimately threaten the tenets of public education.

In the past 12 years, state funding has declined from 52 percent of the total budget to 34 percent of the budget. As a result, the university has had to look elsewhere for funding.

"There is no question that this reduction in state funding has created a greater interest for this university to raise money privately and build relationships with industry," said UC Berkeley Assistant Chancellor John Cummins.

According to last year's budget, 66 percent of the university's total funding came from private sources. Of this money, a reported 29.5 percent -- $51.3 million -- is from corporations. In 1977, private sources contributed $12.6 million to the university. In 1997, this number jumped to $174.2 million.

These facts beg the question, in what direction is the university headed, toward the privatization of a public school? And, even more important, will this merger with big business have an effect on education?

Of the university's many colleges, the College of Natural Resources, the College of Engineering and the Haas School of Business receive among the highest amounts of private funding. These schools, not coincidentally, have the closest ties to big business.

"There is no question that professional schools have ties to their corporate sector based on their alumni," Cummins said. "This relationship may give those schools an advantage over the humanities, but there are things the university can do to counterbalance this."

For example, he said, the university can work to raise additional funding for the humanities departments through focused and specialized attention from the university's development office.

Recent groundbreaking deals between the university's colleges and private firms have drawn heightened attention to the debate over privatization.

The College of Natural Resources and the biotechnology firm Novartis signed a multimillion dollar contract last week that will fund research within the college. Although university administrators said the deal is a great step forward for building the college's integrity, some students and faculty are worried that the agreement may hinder the freedom of university research.

But, according to one College of Natural Resources official, the fear that corporations are somehow running things is unfounded.

"There are checks and balances within the university to ensure that the work here goes on as it is supposed to," said Rosemary Lucier, director of college relations for the College of Natural Resources. "Corporate giving has a definite positive impact on research -- it expands the possibilities of what is already going on."

For example, the increasing cost of research, caused by the continuous need for updated technology, creates a greater financial need in order to remain competitive with other leading universities.

One administrator at the College of Engineering, who declined to give her name, said there has been a long-standing relationship between the professional field and the engineering department.

"Students need to be aware of what they need to know in order to function in the working world," she said. "We need to stay on the cutting edge of research and, as a result, we need to maintain a relationship with big business."

Corporate funding remains a very complex issue, however. To begin with, there are several types of corporate donations. Some gifts may be given in support of the general operations of the university as a whole, while others may be applied as gifts given for specific research or special projects.

According to UC Berkeley spokesperson Jesus Mena, the faculty on campus are conscious of any and all stipulations that may be attached to corporate donations.

"The faculty here is heavily guarded against becoming an arm of the corporate industry," Mena said. "They come here for the express purpose of conducting research that is independent from corporate influence."

And while corporations do contribute money, there are often strict guidelines surrounding these donations to ensure faculty independence, he added.

Despite these claims, students across the country are concerned with corporate influence over public universities. While they recognize that state funding is declining across the nation, some have said they do not feel this validates the corporate funding trend.

Eric Brakken, chair of the Associated Students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is involved in a national council that has been discussing the corporatization trend. He said that increasing corporatization fundamentally changes what public education is for and who it is designed to serve.

"The function that society has given to public universities is for students and faculty to engage in broad, uncensored public debate," Brakken said. "We have to make a decision about whether we are going to look for private sources to buy us out or whether we are going to really fight on the front for what public education is about."

Here at UC Berkeley, student groups have expressed concern about a potential corporate takeover of the university. Senior Bonnie Koo, co-founder of the student group Nindakin, which fights for environmental and economic justice, said the effect on students is actually indirect.

"Corporations are being allowed to recruit in all fields because of their contributions," Koo said. "Instead of the general education public universities are supposed to provide, this institution has become a training ground for big business employment."

While faculty members throughout the university are quick to dismiss the notion that these types of corporate funds have any impact on the quality of public education, some students maintain that in the long run the effects could be drastic.

(c) 1998 Daily Californian

Please sign the Consumer Right to Know Petition

Just send the following message to "Add my name to the Consumer Right to Know Petition for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods." Make sure to include your name and address in USA (which will only be used for this petition). For more info, hard copies of the petition and for friends without email to sign, call toll-free: 1 877 REAL FOOD (1 877 732 5366) or visit the Mothers for Natural Law web site:

Date: 30 Nov 1998 22:01:06 -0600
From: Mark Gold


If you've been wondering why Monsanto stock has been inching up after its earlier collapse a couple of months ago, here's the primary reason I believe. Their new arthritis drugs is due to be approved shortly. The article below talks about the FDA advisory panel. Please keep in mind that FDA advisory panels are generally stacked with drug and "food" industry reps. Monsanto's drug might be relatively safe or it might leave a path of destruction, but the FDA will approve it either way.

Best Wishes,

- Mark
Aspartame Toxicity Information Center
(Monsanto, Benevia, NutraSweet, Equal, NatraTaste, Neotame)


Monsanto's New Drug

[Reuters, Nov. 30, 1998]

A drug for treatment of arthritis pain, the first of a widely anticipated group of new pain-relieving drugs, goes before a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel this week.

The drug, Celebrex, made by Monsanto Co. unit G.D. Searle, is in a class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors that should be better suited for long-term use because they do not attack the stomach lining like other nonsteroidal anti-infammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.

An estimated 16 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, the degenerative disease of the joints that affects virtually everyone over the age of 75.

At the advisory meeting tomorrow, Celebrex might also be recommended for the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own joint tissues that affects about 1 percent of the population.

The FDA is not bound by the advice of its advisory committees but usually follows their recommendations.

The market for such drugs looks huge as the population ages. "I think $3 [billion] to $4 billion a years is almost a given," independent drug industry analyst Hemant Shah told Reuters.

Merck and Co. Inc. has submitted a similar drugs called Vioxx for FDA approval. Searle plans to co-market Celebrex with Pfizer Inc. COX-2 drugs hold the potential to curb hospitalizations and deaths in people at highest risk for gastrointestinal problems, said Dr. Lee Simon, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Complications such as ulcers and stomach perforations cause 7,000 to 20,000 deaths a year, according to Stanford University researchers. Sold by prescription and over the counter, NSAIDS are taken by a least 13 million Americans for arthritis.

"These new drugs are a light-year development forward from a safety point of view," Simon, who has been an investigator for several Celebrex studies, added.

Simon said COX-2s will also be important for patients who need to have surgery. Often they have to stop taking traditional anti-inflammatory drugs up to two weeks prior or just after surgery because they can cause bleeding.

COX-2 inhibitors affect cyclooxygenase-2, an enzyme made by the body in response to pain or trauma.

Date: 1 Dec 1998 02:57:55 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)

Scottish scientist may be first to clone embryo

November 30, 1998

Xinhua via NewsEdge Corporation : LONDON (Nov. 29) XINHUA - A Scottish scientist is on the brink of making medical history by becoming the first person to clone a human embryo, The Sunday Times reported Sunday.

Dr Austin Smith, director of Edinburgh University's center of genome research, is expected to pioneer a revolutionary form of cloning by giving every baby an embryonic "twin," from whom spare body parts can be grown and life-threatening diseases treated.

He is in consultation with the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh which created Dolly, the first cloned mammal, and said that within the next 12 years it would be routine for every baby to have an embryonic clone.

"All it takes now is financial investment," he said. "This therapy will be the medicine of the next century."

A working party from Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority and the human genetics advisory commission will report to the government within the next few weeks.

It is understood that it will recommend approval of new "therapeutic" cloning but come down firmly against reproductive cloning by replicating a living human being.

If the group's report is accepted by ministers, it would mean that Britain could be the first to clone a human embryo, The Sunday Times said.

Date: 1 Dec 1998 18:13:40 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)

Kirton confirms US food bullying

The Evening Post, Supplied by New Zealand Press Association © Copyright 1998

Neil Kirton says he felt strong US pressure over modified foods.

Claims that the US bullied New Zealand over the testing and labelling of genetically modified food were backed yesterday by former associate health Minister Neil Kirton who says he was visited on the issue twice by an "aggressive" US Ambassador Josiah Beeman.

Mr Kirton said Mr Beeman visited him twice in February or March of 1997 after he called for the compulsory labelling of genetically modified food.

"He made two trips to my office, from memory," he said.

"On the first occasion it was the first time I had had a visit from a diplomat to see me.

"I was struck dumb by the aggression showed by Beeman to my stance, and the bullying tactics he used," Mr Kirton said.

Mr Kirton said Mr Beeman claimed his stance would affect US-New Zealand trade relations. He understood Mr Beeman was in contact with other Ministers on the issue, including Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

The American Embassy could not be reached for comment.

Mr Kirton said that after he was sacked as Minister, his replacement and then New Zealand First colleague Tuariki Delamere had decided to support the stance on non-labelling promoted by the Australian-New Zealand Food Authority, despite the strong opposition of the NZ First caucus at the time.

"There was a very, very vigorous and acrimonious debate in the NZ First caucus because he had made the decision without getting approval (from caucus)."

Mr Kirton said he supported labelling because he believed consumers had a right to know what was in food they were buying.

Mr Delamere said yesterday he had "never had any contact from anyone in the US Government" about the issue.

He was responding to a claim by Alliance health spokeswoman Phillida Bunkle and Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons that the Government was being pressured over the issue.

They cited Cabinet papers that said the US and Canada were concerned about the approach advocated by the Australian-New Zealand Food Authority and its effect on others, including the European Union. The papers also said such an approach could potentially end any chance of a New Zealand-US Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Kirton said the science select committee had last week called for a comprehensive account of how much tax money State-funded Crown research institutes were putting into a lobbying campaign here by US company [ Monsanto ] against genetic food labelling and testing.

He understood Crop and Food Research and other Crown institutes had so far spent $60,000 on the campaign.

The Government has yet to make a decision on whether some products should be labelled.

Ms Fitzsimons yesterday predicted the Government would today approve the first application for gene modification, paving the way for New Zealand to be used as a gene-engineering test ground.

Ms Fitzsimons said the Environmental Risk Management Authority would issue its first decision today on applications by genetic engineers, allowing herbicide-resistant, genetically engineered sugarbeet in a Canterbury field trial. - NZPA

_____via IntellX_____

Date: 1 Dec 1998 20:48:53 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)
Monday November 30 4:55 AM ET

Biotech Companies Face Backlash If No Ethical Debate

By Marie McInerney

ADELAIDE (Reuters) - Scientists and biotechnology companies pursuing genetic research should promote full and open debate on their work or risk public backlash which could halt their studies, a leading bioethicist said Monday.

Senior Australian judge Michael Kirby told Reuters the debate on the cloning of human cells, sparked by the cloning of Dolly the sheep in Scotland in 1996, highlighted the risks when science outstrips debate on ethics. Unless there is a proper, thorough explanation to the community of the scientific arguments for cloning, the natural response of a community ignorant of the potential benefits is to he said.

Kirby is a member of the bioethics committees of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Human Genome Project, an international effort to map and sequence all human genes.

Public fears sparked by the cloning of Dolly were heightened this month with the cloning in the United States of an adult human cell.

Scientists at the Massachusetts-based biotech company Advanced Cell Technology said they had fused human cells into cow eggs to grow stem cells for tissue transplants, not to grow an embryo that would essentially be a human clone.

Speaking at GeneCom '98, a privately organized international conference on gene technology, Kirby said efforts to address the ethical dilemmas posed by genetic research were being hampered by lack of funds.

He said multinational corporations which stood to make significant commercial gains from that research should contribute more to debate, both financially and intellectually - if only out of self-protection. Unless you engage the community in debate about these issues, the result will be that instinctive, intuitive responses will rule the science and that may not be for the benefit of either he said.

Kirby also blamed the media for a lack of serious public debate, saying its approach to many issues led scientists to remain trivialized, We have to develop media reporting of this issue which will ensure the scientists do not simply retreat into their he said.

Date: 2 Dec 1998 11:31:30 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)

Monsanto May Sell Nutrasweet Division

The Augusta Chronicle

Life sciences corporation [ Monsanto Co. ] may sell its NutraSweet artificial-sweetener business and other parts of its nutrition and consumer products operations to help pay for $6 billion in planned acquisitions, a Reuters report said Monday, quoting analysts who cover the company.

Local NutraSweet plant Manager Bill DeFer declined to comment and referred questions about the speculated sale to Monsanto's headquarters in St. Louis. Officials there did not immediately return calls. NutraSweet employs about 370 people in Augusta.

Monsanto, the St. Louis-based company that operates NutraSweet- Kelco and Searle plants in Augusta, announced in November that it will restructure and sell some businesses as it prepares to acquire four seed companies for about $6 billion. Monsanto said the sales would generate at least $1 billion.

Also Monday, the Justice Department approved Monsanto's $2.3 billion acquisition of Illinois-based corn seed company [ DeKalb Genetics Corp. ] , and [ Delta and Pine Land Co. ] , a Mississippi-based cotton seed company, announced that its shareowners have approved its pending merger with Monsanto.

Date: 2 Dec 1998 22:46:18 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)

Monsanto Launches Chinese Language Web Site

SOURCE: Monsanto Company, Company Press Release Friday November 20, 6:20 pm Eastern Time

Monsanto Launches First Known Chinese Language Life Sciences Web Site. Latest International Industry Information Provided in Mandarin

BEIJING, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Monsanto Company today launched the first known Chinese language Web site covering the life sciences industry. The Web address offers scientists, researchers and students with an up-to-the-moment information resource on international activities and the latest from China's fast-growing life sciences sector -- all translated to Mandarin Chinese. Throughout China, the Internet is quickly gaining exposure and popularity as a key source of information and perspective, as it said Charles M. Martin, chief Monsanto is proud to be the first life sciences company to design a Chinese language information resource for the Internet that addresses a

The searchable Web site features electronic versions of Monsanto's new Life Sciences Bulletin -- a Chinese language review of international activities in the life sciences industry. For students and researchers, a Mandarin glossary of life sciences terms provides definitions for complex biotechnology and pharmaceutical words, and to support Chinese media, the site includes China-relevant media releases.

For those interested specifically in Monsanto, a business unit overview and listing of products available in China is provided along with Monsanto's international corporate background, and China corporate history. The site also allows Web browsers to submit their name, mailing address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address to receive updates from Monsanto.

As a life sciences company, Monsanto is committed to finding solutions to the growing global needs for food and health by sharing common forms of science and technology among agriculture, nutrition and health. The company's 26,500 employees worldwide make and market high-value agricultural products, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company

Date: 2 Dec 1998 22:46:18 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)

Remember last year already:

Chinese Scientists Transplant Fish Genes into Beet

HUHHOT (April 5, 98) XINHUA - Chinese scientists have succeeded in transplanting fish genes into beets. The transgenic beet seedlings can survive temperatures of six to 6.5 degrees below zero, 2.5 times that of non-transgenic beet.The sowing period of the beet can come ten to 15 days earlier and its harvesting period can be extended by ten to 15 days.

The gene came from the anti-frost protein gene of an Arctic fish imported to Mongolia from Germany in 1992. Li Tianran, a professor of the Biology Department, and Zhang Jianfeng, a graduate student under Li, were put in charge of the research.

"It is the first time in the world that animal gene was transplanted into the beet," Tian Bo, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

"It is of great significance for the anti-frost research for other crops," he said.

Date: 2 Dec 1998 22:46:18 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)

Or fish into tomato:

China Engineers Super Tomato With Fish Genes

BEIJING, May 7 (AFP) - Chinese genetic engineers have developed a frost- resistant tomato plant by splicing genetic material from a coldwater fish into tomato pollen, the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. The result of 10 years of research, the plant can withstand temperatures below -4 degrees Celsius (24.8 degrees Fahrenheit) for six hours, allowing it to survive a late frost, the report said. Its seeds are also cold-resistant and can be planted earlier than ordinary specimens.

Wang Yong, who led research in the northeastern city of Harbin, was quoted as saying the resulting fruit contain 15 percent more vitamin C and "taste better."

Seeds of the super tomatos -- which received government approval last year -- are selling for 200,000 yuan (24,960 dollars) a kilogramme, the report said.

Date: 2 Dec 1998 22:46:18 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)

Or GE corn by Pioneer:

Pioneer establishes GE research in China

SOURCE Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
CONTACT: Tim Martin of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, 515-334-6837

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (NYSE: PHB), announced today it has received approval from the Chinese government to establish a research center in China. The center will be located in Liaoning province in Tieling City. Work there will focus on the development of corn hybrids adapted to the specific growing conditions of China.

"This is a very significant step in our ability to offer advanced genetics to the important market of China," said Hal Thorne, Vice President and Director of Operations for Africa/Middle East/Asia & Pacific. "Pioneer is committed to providing increased productivity to the farmers of China. The establishment of the center will enhance our ability to leverage Pioneer's worldwide research effort to serve the China market, both in the short and longer term.

The corn market in China represents more than 50 million acres. Virtually all of those acres are planted with hybrid seed corn.

"We have been working with Chinese governmental officials on a national, provincial and local level for several years to establish a research location there, said Mr. Thorne. "At all levels we have seen a great desire and commitment to bring new genetics, new technology and training to rural China to increase agricultural productivity. Our new research location should play an important role in China's continued ability to feed its huge population."

The new 25-acre research center will be managed by Dr. Dapeng Bai. He graduated from University of Saskatchewan and was hired in February 1998 by Pioneer. Dr. Bai is currently overseeing the establishment and the maintenance of the facilities. Land for the research location has been leased from the city's Agricultural Academy with support from the local government. The registered capital for this entity is $700,000.

The new Tieling center will be a part of Pioneer's network of more than 100 research locations worldwide. In Asia, Pioneer currently has research activities in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and India. Each contributes genetic material and data aimed toward development of new seed products for the Asian market and other Pioneer markets throughout the world.

"Our aim is to understand the growing environments as we develop new seed products. At the same time, at individual locations, we are evaluating our corn hybrids' performance in localized growing areas," said Dr. Richard McConnell, Senior Vice President for Research. "Our approach to developing and testing products ensures our customers will have the best seed products. The new center in Tieling will focus on developing top performing corn hybrids for the China market."

Pioneer announced in January the establishment of a business office in Beijing. That office will continue as liaison with Chinese officials for governmental seed performance testing. Pioneer hybrids have been entered in Chinese governmental registration trials since 1994.

Pioneer representatives in Beijing will continue ongoing discussions aimed at pursuing a variety of potential relationships for marketing Pioneer products in China. The Company currently has no sales there.

According to Mr. Thorne, first products for China from Pioneer's worldwide research efforts may be marketed as soon as 2001.

"We have had seed products in official trials for the past four years," said Mr. Thorne." We have many details to work through before we can market products in China, but we have good material adapted for the market. With the new center at Tieling coming on line this year, we can expand the number of hybrids going into governmental trials and will be able to offer new hybrids to Chinese farmers at an increasing rate."

"As the world leader in increasing agricultural productivity through genetic enhancement, Pioneer is leading the way in research devoted to China," said Charles S. Johnson, Chairman, President and CEO. "We have a great deal of genetic material that can be important to this market in the near future. China recently passed a law making protection of proprietary genetic material a priority. That enables us to conduct research there with a high degree of confidence that Chinese farmers and Pioneer can both benefit from sales of our seed products. We're committed to increasing productivity in China. We couldn't be more excited about the establishment of the first private research facility there."

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is the world's leading supplier of agricultural genetics and is a leading integrator of agricultural technology. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer develops, produces, and markets a full line of seeds, microbial products, and services to farmers, grain processors, and other customers worldwide.

Date: 2 Dec 1998 22:46:18 -0600
From: (Joe Toth)

Industrialization Of Genetic Engineering Projects Urged


Xinhua via NewsEdge Corporation : HANGZHOU (Aug. 27) XINHUA - Chinese genetic engineers, businessmen and securities market officials have called for more rapid industrialization of genetic engineering projects.

Participants at a recent natinal symposium on genetic-engineering industrialization held here urged the early establishment of risk investment an innovation systems for such projects.

Chinese scientists believe that if they can abandon low-level and repetitive research, the country's genetic engineering will surely catch up to world standards.

Wong Yannian, head of the China Society of Biological Engineering, said China has bred dozens of trans-genetic animal and plant species.

He said that trans-genetic rice, wheat, rape, rubber tree and cane seeds developed by Chinese scientists have been applied to field production.

Wong added that scientists have developed trans-genetic cotton seeds which can kill at least 80 percent of the cotton boll weevil, and that 15 varieties of trans-genetic cotton seeds are now in trial production.

China has also begun factory production of grape, apple, and banana tube tree seedlings.

He claimed that China has taken the lead in the development of trans-genetic fish, having developed over 10,000 trans-genetic fish species.

Chinese scientists have also developed gene-engineered lean-meat pigs and trans-genetic sheep, he said.

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