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Biotech Industry Funds Bumper Crop of UC Davis Research

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

Last August, a promising new report about genetically modified corn flickered across a Web site sponsored by the corn's corporate creator, the biotechnology giant Monsanto Co.

Citing new research by the University of California, Davis, the report said corn altered to produce its own pesticide was a biotechnology bonanza - one that could make farmers across the country wealthier and reduce the use of toxic insecticides.

But there was one fact the "Biotech Knowledge Center" Web site failed to mention: Monsanto paid for the UC Davis research.

Following a pattern set by farm chemical companies in the 1960s, the biotechnology industry is mining public agricultural colleges such as UC Davis for scientific research, confidential business advice and academic support for its technology.

You name it, and biotechnology companies help pay for it at UC Davis: laboratory studies, scholarships, post.doctoral students' salaries, professors' travel expenses, even the campus utility bill. Some professors earn extra money, up to $2,000 a month, consulting for such companies on the side.

The school's attraction to biotechnology is driven by its desire to transform itself from a traditional agricultural college into a bustling center for the exploration - and manipulation - of plant genes. That desire is more than talk. New buildings and research centers are sprouting: the Seed Biotechnology Center, the Genome Center and a planned new life science research park along Interstate 80. A bumper crop of biotechnology research is under way.

Biotechnology industry dollars are helping spark the transformation.