GP GMO update 10/30/97

GENETIC ENGINEERING CAMPAIGN UPDATE 10/30/97

* (clipped from London Times October 22 1997) Ladybirds ( ladybugs
in US) harmed in transgenic crop test BY NIGEL HAWKES SCIENCE EDITOR
SCIENTISTS in Scotland have urged caution in the introduction of
genetically modified crops after discovering that they could harm
ladybirds.
Nick Birch and a team from the Scottish Crop Research Institute in
Dundee found that female ladybirds that ate aphids that had fed on
genetically modified potatoes laid fewer eggs and lived only half as
long as the average. The team tested a potato plant that had been
modified to produce a natural insecticide that discouraged aphids
from feeding on them. The team found that the modified potatoes did
indeed suffer reduced attack but the cut, of 50 per cent, was
insufficient on its own, so it was important that ladybirds also did
their work. The team says in the institute's annual report that the
ladybirds continued to eat the aphids but the effects suggested that
such crops could have unexpected consequences.

* (clipped from Reuters, 10/22/97) Monsanto posts Q3 loss after R&D
write-off charge
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Reuters [BR] via Individual Inc. : Monsanto Co.
Tuesday reported a third-quarter loss of $133 million, including a
$270 million charge for research and development costs, compared with
year-ago profits of $170 million. The loss equaled 23 cents a share,
compared with earnings of 28 cents a share a year earlier. Sales rose
to $1.7 billion from $1.4 billion. The results also included chemical
operations that were spun off to shareholders in September, which
contributed $34 million or 5 cents a share, in the latest quarter,
compared with income of $63.0 million, or 10 cents a share, a year
ago. Its continuing operations -- agriculture, pharmaceutical and
food ingredients -- lost $167 million after the charge for a
write-off of research and development costs related to its
acquisition of Holden's Foundation Seeds Inc. Excluding the charge,
Monsanto's pretax income from continuing operations rose to $163
million in the quarter from $134 million a year earlier. Nicholas
Filippello, chief economist for the St. Louis-based company, said
some of the rise in pretax earnings was due to strength in Monsanto's
Roundup herbicide, which may have pulled some sales from the fourth
quarter. ``So from that standpoint, the third quarter was somewhat
stronger than we had estimated a month or two ago,'' he said in a
telephone interview. Excluding the research and development charge,
Monsanto's agricultural sector earned $141 million -- a record for
the third quarter -- up from $100 million a year earlier. Sales rose
to $672 million from $556.0 million, bolstered by strong Roundup
sales. Pharmaceutical earnings rose to $77 million, including a $49
million gain related to the sale of rights to three oral
contraceptive products, from $55 million. Filippello said the sale of
the product rights and related agreements will help Monsanto fund
clinical trials for products in its pharmaceutical pipeline. ``You
should anticipate that over the course of the next year, we should
probably see some fairly important partnering deals in
pharmaceuticals,'' he said, but gave no details. In agriculture,
Monsanto also is considering a possible alliance to complement
operations that include the development of genetically engineered
crops, he said. ``We've made no secret that we have continued to look
at a number of possible different relationships,'' he said.

* (clipped from the Wellington (New Zealand) Newspapers Limited,
The Dominion
October 23, 1997
A BILL that would have forced the labelling of genetically modified
foods was rejected by Parliament last night.
The bill, put forward by Alliance MP Phillida Bunkle, would have
required manufacturers and distributors to disclose which foods
were genetically modified. They are not now required to do so.
Ms Bunkle told Parliament it was a fundamental right that people
be told what they were eating, particularly as the long-term
effects of genetically modified food were unknown.
There are about 40 applications for field tests of genetic
changes to plants and animals before the Environment Ministry's
interim assessment committee. Ms Bunkle said the risks of such
bio-technology were unknown. [...] Associate Health Minister
Tuariki Delamere said the Government voted against the bill
because policy aimed to develop rules on labelling in tandem with
New Zealand's trading partners. He said the Food Act ensured food
could not be sold unless it was safe for general consumption.
The Australia New Zealand Food Authority had also produced a draft
standard covering the safety assessment and labelling requirements
for genetically modified foods and further work was being done.
Greenpeace said yesterday there was deep public concern about the
genetic engineering of food and a recent petition calling for an
immediate moratorium on the introduction of such food to New
Zealand attracted 6000 signatures. -- NZPA

* (clipped from Reuters, 10/16/97)
Unilever says gene food is weapon against hunger By Christopher
Lyddon
ROTTERDAM, Oct 16 (Reuters) The head of one of Europe's largest food
companies strongly defended the use of modern science to expand the
world's food supply on Thursday despite a recent public outcry over
genetically modified grain crops.
Morris Tabaksblat, chairman of the Dutch arm of Anglo-Dutch
multinational Unilever told grain companies they should take it
on themselves to win public confidence in the novel crops after
European governments had failed to get fully to grips with a
protest campaign by ecologists. Investing in the more productive
technology would also help reduce global hunger. "Modern
biotechnology is here to stay," Tabaksblat told nearly 2,000
traders at Europe's largest annual trade gathering, coinciding
this year with the United Nations' World Food Day called to raise
awareness of world hunger. "It will be a key technology in
future, making it possible to feed a sharply rising world
population, in addition to further quality improvements," he
said.
Unilever and other major processors have millions of dollars at
stake in public acceptance of genetically modified food
ingredients. Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups want
them banned, saying there is no proof they are safe.
Tabaksblat said he recognised the importance of regulating
so-called Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) like maize and
soya, first planted by farmers in the United States. But private
companies would have to help governments spread the message to
consumers in Europe, which has been the focus of repeated
protests over GMO imports as well as the loss of consumer
confidence triggered by last year's beef crisis. "We cannot
expect individual consumers to change their perceptions and
emotional framework overnight," Tabaksblat said, adding that his
own company had tested the new products and found them to be
safe.
"We should also recognise that while modern biotechnology
--properly managed -- is a good servant, it is a bad master. We
should also acknowledgge the importance of proper control." Sixty
percent of processed food contains soya, he said. He vowed that
Unilever would protect consumers who do not want to buy food
containing genetically tampered material. "If in some countries
the public wants GMO free products, then (Unilever) will try to
find them, whether this means buying other ingredients or
reverting to traditional raw materials." "If we fail to respect
consumers' views, we should not be doing our jobs properly."
While disputes over the safety of genetic foods have sparked
calls for a consumer boycott or compulsory labelling in parts of
Europe, notably Germany, the United States has defended GMOs as a
way to grow more for less and address world hunger. The European
Union has said all food and primary products which contain GMOs
must be labelled as such and that it will introduce legislation
to enforce this.

* (clipped from Reuters, 10/21/97)
Germany warns against provoking US on genetic food HANOVER, Germany,
Oct 21
(Reuters) - Europe should improve its licensing procedures for
genetically-modified agricultural produce to ensure a trade war with
the U.S. does not develop, German economics minister Guenter Rexrodt
said on Tuesday. At a speech to launch the Biotechnica
biotechnology trade fair in Hanover, Rexrodt said current licensing
procedures took too long and risked provoking U.S. ire.
"Previous practices have been a frequent source of trade problems
with the U.S.," he said. "In individual cases it has taken more
than 20 months to approve applications. This is unacceptable."
Rexrodt warned against any ban on U.S. genetically-modified
products. "There is...a possibility that a full-scale embargo
will be imposed on all maize and rape imports from the U.S. as
these U.S. deliveries contain genetically modified components
derived from non-approved varieties," he said. "On no account am
I in favour of approving licence applications simply for reasons
of trade policy expediency. However, there is no need for
objectively unjustified delays in cases where there is no threat
to safety. Nobody would benefit from a transatlantic trade war."

* Test plantings of Monsanto's bollgard cotton is now taking place in
Thailand; government approval for marketing is pending. (source:
Emerging Markets Datafile 10/28/97)

* (clipped from Reuters, 10/28/97) Monsanto sets gene alliance,may
add processor pact By Patricia Commins CHICAGO, Oct 28 (Reuters)
Monsanto Co <MTC.N on Tuesday signed a plant genetics research
collaboration and hinted that an alliance with a food processor could
be in the offing. Monsanto said it will establish a new subsidiary to
collaborate with Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc <MLNM.O in the area
of genomics, or the mapping and analyzing of genes, to develop plant
and agricultural products. The collaboration is the latest piece
that Monsanto has added to build its life sciences businesses that
span agriculture, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients.
Monsanto recently bought Holden's Foundation Seeds, which
specializes in germ plasm, and has about a 40 percent stake in
agriculture firm DeKalb Genetics Corp <DKB.N. The next step,
analysts have speculated, would be for Monsanto to establish an
alliance with a food processor. That would enable biotech crops
with enhanced nutritional traits -- such as higher amounts of
protein or beneficial oils -- to be processed and kept separate to
retain their value. Asked if Monsanto were close to signing an
agreement with a processor, Monsanto President Hendrik Verfaillie
replied, "stay tuned."
Monsanto's collaboration with Millennium comes a day after an
agreement was announced with Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc <INCY.O
which gives Monsanto access to Incyte's genomic technologies.
"By doing this, we believe we can greatly increase the speed at
which we can discover new products (and) we can increase the
number of discovery targets that we can deliver," Verfaillie
said of the genomics agreements. "We are after more products, faster
to the market place."
Merrill Lynch analyst Doug Groh said these agreements reflect
Monsanto's strategy to become more involved with genomics as it
builds its agriculture portfolio. "My sense, too, is that this
isn't the last" collaboration, Groh added. Genetics are the
backbone of efforts in the agricultural industry to develop new
crops using biotechnology.
By adding or altering genes, crops can be produced that fight off
insects, resist the use of certain herbicides or have certain
nutritional traits.


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