We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

View article without comments

BioTech History: San Diego is big part of a big gamble , Major companies bet...

by By Thomas Kupper, UNION-TRIBUNE (reposted by Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 5:19 AM

San Diego is big part of a big gamble, Major companies bet millions that resistance won't kill market By Thomas Kupper  UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

errorSan Diego is big part of a big gamble , Major companies bet millions that resistance won't kill market


November 30, 1999

LA JOLLA -- At the edge of a canyon overlooking Interstate 5 in La Jolla, bulldozers began clearing land this year for what will be one of the largest of San Diego's many biotechnology research facilities.

Sometime in the year 2001, several hundred scientists affiliated with the Swiss company Novartis will move into a campus of seven buildings, all filled with the latest DNA-analysis tools, "gene guns" and other high-tech gear.

Their job: Finding new ways to manipulate the genetic makeup of plants, and new products for dinner tables around the world.

Europeans have banished such "genetically modified" foods from their dinner tables, but the uproar does not appear to have dampened the interest of American companies and others in the industry.

The industry is in a high-stakes gamble that resistance to bioengineering won't make its products worthless -- and San Diego is at the center of that bet.

"This industry has the potential to fuel the economic growth of the United States the way telecommunications and the computer industry have," said Stephen Briggs, head of one of two research institutes that will fill the Novartis campus.

"San Diego has the potential to be one of the major centers. It can be the Silicon Valley of agricultural biotech."

Major agricultural companies are all stepping up their efforts in bioengineering. Monsanto has sold off many of its other businesses to focus on biotech, and both Dow Chemical and Novartis are investing heavily to increase their presence in agricultural biotechnology.

Briggs' Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute plans to invest $55 million a year on the study of plant genetics. Already, 65 people are at work in a temporary building in La Jolla. That staff is expected to grow to more than 200, with another group at a separate genomics institute.

Instead of building its own capability, Dow simply bought the San Diego biotech Mycogen, which was a pioneer in the development of bioengineered corn. Now, Mycogen is pursuing new discoveries that could make plants resistant to disease or more healthful to eat.

Perhaps a half-dozen small San Diego biotechs are also working on agricultural projects. And while most of San Diego's dozens of biotech companies are focused on medical research, the agricultural side is growing fast.

Why push forward when acceptance of bioengineered products is uncertain?

Nearly everyone in the industry concedes that the backlash against bioengineered food has gained momentum because the benefits of insect-resistant corn, for example, aren't obvious to the people who actually eat the corn.

All these companies are betting that acceptance of bioengineered crops will increase, and in some cases are subtly shifting their approach to help their case. Their talk has shifted from promoting products that help farmers to finding products with consumer benefits that can't be denied.

That is a big change, because much of the earliest agricultural biotech work focused on increasing production efficiency for the highest-volume crops, corn and soybeans, offering the biotech companies the quickest financial return.

Now scientists talk more about "output traits," which means improvements that will be attractive to the consumer.

For example, instead of insect-resistant corn, the companies now promote their efforts to develop crops that will fight human disease. Instead of weedkiller-resistant soybeans, they talk about tomatoes that taste better or stay fresh longer.

"If I put out a tomato that tastes like the tomato I grew up with on the farm and sell that year-round, I could have a $1 billion-plus product, and the consumers would buy it," said Jerry Caulder, a former chief executive of Mycogen who now heads the local start-up Akkadix.

Joe Panetta, a former Mycogen executive who now heads BioCom, the local biotechnology trade group, remembers when the company was introducing its insect-resistant corn and executives thought they had a sure-thing winner. The question of whether consumers would approve was largely an afterthought, an approach that turned out to be a major miscalculation.

Vegetables for vaccines?
"These companies made products for farmers. They didn't sell products to consumers, and so the thinking from a marketing standpoint was, 'What do we need to do to make these products attractive to farmers?'" Panetta said. "When it came to corn that could control insects, that wasn't something the public could identify with."

Today, scientists at the Novartis Institute are focused on developing crops that will help consumers avoid such diseases as cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Researchers think nutrition makes a difference in each of these areas and are trying to determine the genetic basis.

At Dow's San Diego facility, the former Mycogen, scientists are looking for ways to produce high-oil grains and plants that contain vaccines. The unit also works with Dow's chemical business to study methods for using plant oils to produce such things as biodegradable plastics, a spokesman said.

Likewise, the start-up San Diego biotech Epicyte is looking at ways to use plants to make drugs. The company believes, for example, that a new corn that can be processed into a gel for herpes could cut production costs and also produce an effective drug.

"Companies like ours may go a long way toward alleviating some of the 'What's in it for me?' kind of reasoning," said Robert Leach, the company's chief executive. "Many of our ideas are aimed at markets where they could affect 25 percent of the population."

One entrepreneur making a big bet on the technology is Paul Ecke, whose family has bred poinsettias in Encinitas for much of this century. Ecke plans to spend $25 million building a research park on his poinsettia farm to look at new biotech applications in agriculture.

Ecke thinks it would be prohibitively expensive simply to hire scientists to develop flowers that need less water or that exhibit other beneficial traits. But by renting space for the scientists to work on other things, Ecke believes he can gain access to some of the technology.

"It has been extraordinarily expensive to do even basic research," Ecke said. "We've had our toes dipped in the water, but we didn't want to drown."

How it's done
The process of genetically modifying a plant is straightforward.

There are two methods, one of which uses a "gene gun" to inject the genetic material into plant cells, while the other involves producing bacteria that contain the genetic material.

In either case, the success rate is not high.

With the bacteria method, for example, scientists must dunk a plant in the bacteria for half a minute or so and hope that the genetic material gets into the plant's cells. That happens less than 1 percent of the time -- producing a good number of genetically modified seeds from each plant, but also many that aren't modified.

Understanding which genes to manipulate is also not an easy task.

It can require understanding and moving several genes to get the desired result, and even a life form as seemingly simple as corn could have tens of thousands of genes, many of which have yet to be understood by anyone.

It's not a totally random process, though, because researchers can use the advances of conventional breeders to help them. For example, they might focus on finding the genetic differences that led an existing corn or soybean to develop a healthier oil profile.

Steve Goff, who leads a research group of about 30 at the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute, points out that thousands of years of breeding have already substantially alterered the genetic makeup of a crop such as corn, which tended to produce scraggly ears several centuries ago.

"In reality, nearly all crops are modified genetically," Goff said. "Some of them have already been modified to the point that the ancestral population is impossible to recognize."

Goff argues that breeding in the lab isn't really any more unnatural than the process of conventional breeding, in which much larger numbers of genes could be involved in changes that take place in successive generations of plants. He believes the controversy stems largely from a lack of understanding.

Tough prospect
"What's the most disturbing is that there's a lack of general scientific understanding and a lack of understanding of the entire historical development of crop plants," Goff said. "If people understood that more, the definitions of 'natural' and other things that people seem to be concerned about would take on a new meaning."

In the industry's worst nightmare, of course, Americans will start to wonder whether they, too, should think twice before eating anything with bioengineered ingredients. If that happens, it could become very difficult for companies to continue investing in the research.

Briggs believes it's possible that resistance to the technology will spread beyond Europe and possibly to the United States. That's why he said it's essential to get products with clear consumer benefits on the market, before resistance spreads.

Once products that control disease or improve nutrition emerge in the United States, he said, it's likely that European shoppers will also demand access to them. Until then, though, companies such as Novartis will face a tough battle convincing consumers the products are beneficial.

"The role the controversy plays is simply to reinforce that we have to come up with products that matter," Briggs said. "We need to come up with products that really benefit the average citizen."

Ecke believes that his poinsettias could eventually become a sort of advertisement for the benefits of genetic engineering. After all, he asked, who could be against a more beautiful or longer-lasting flower?

As with others in the field, Ecke recognizes that his investment in the research facility he wants to build faces additional risk because of the opposition to agricultural biotech overseas. If the industry fails to grow, it would be difficult to rent space in his facility.

But he is betting on the potential of today's technology to help his business grow, just as earlier innovations such as conventional breeding or better-designed greenhouses have done.

"What we've been doing is trying to improve the plants that we offer growers for 75 or 80 years," Ecke said. "This is just another way to do that. It's another tool in our tool belt."

Copyright 2001 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Screw responsibility, we'll play the consumer

by Practice Disobedience Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 8:05 AM

Let me sum up that article.
"We realize that we screwed up, but we are convinced we can still avoid actual responsibility by twisting half truths and playing to the average lazy consumer."
The breeding and hybridization that has occurred for years is completely different than what they are doing now. Typical breeding will never see the crossing of coldwater fish genes with plants of any kind. A species is the most general categorization of any organism that can still breed with other members of the same species. Anything outside that species CANNOT produce offspring with a member within the species. This is how nature makes sure the organisms produced are capable of surviving in their world without taking down the whole system. Biopharming has already proven to be dangerous and experts are skeptical that it will even be useful if controlled properly. Weakened viruses or bacteria are inserted into plants with the idea of making cheaper cures. The problem is that you end up with a fully virulent strain because the disease takes what it needs from the plant to become healthy. Even if that can be avoided, scientists are skeptical that the human body will be able to process the end result because plants work differently.
So now, instead of dealing with the issues at hand, they are going to cover up with PR. Now that the average consumer has had the reality dropped in their lap and have decided they might not like it, they have to be placated. Biotech will do that by making it seem as though the consumer is directly benefiting. The article is an insult to anyone of intelligence. It puts into flowery words the idea that we are too stupid to see what they are up to. I say we let them know we won't put up with it. I am coming up with GMO labels for labelling brigades. I will post on the bulletin board when they are available online for those interested. And...I will see you all at Biojustice!
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

What were you reading?

by FrankenSense Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 1:08 PM

The above comments are remarkable in their rambling display of ignorance. Practice, did you actually read the article you commment on (or bother to note that it is _years_ old)? The article makes no mention of fish genes, or anything else having to do with crossing species barriers (which are by the way defined incorrectly in your comment). Even "Round-up Ready", the poster-child for the evils of Monsanto, is actually a plant gene with one or two tiny alterations - something totally plausible to arise through natural evolution let alone selective breeding and hybridization. Like it or not, there is a huge demand for these products: some solutions to health care problems will require _only_ the scale that plant production can supply. You say the scientists "won't deal with the issues at hand, they will only cover them up with PR" - yet, the issues you define (bacteria and viruses somehow magically transformed "because they take what they need from the plant to become healthy", and "the human body can't process the result because plants work differently") are absurdly non-existent. I could go on, but it isn't worth it. Fatuous, ignorant comments do not further your cause, win you supporters or make any kind of coherent point. All they do is allow someone to sum up YOUR article: "I have no clue what I'm talking about, but I'll throw together some psuedo-authoritative words that make me look like a consumer's friend, when all I really want to do is take AWAY his choices for health, reasonably priced good-tasting food, and a diverse and succesful life". Screw you, we don't need your kind in San Diego or anywhere else, "Disobedience"!
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


by GREENfields Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 2:11 PM

This is the kind of Bull-Shit CB was talking about! You GOT NO "SCIENCE"! You play with peoples lives & then pretend that you are NOT!
- This is TOTALLY the WRONG technology!
- If I make mistakes building Fuel-less auto-drive proto-types - who gets hurt?
I may get a cut, or even damage my lungs by sniffing glue - BUT THAT'S IT!
- YOU make a Mistake & what happens?
- People get sick and maybe start dying! So what do you do then? DENY IT! DENY IT!
- You mass-murdering whore of Bush-Oil policies CRETIN!!!
- Specie cross-overs HAVE ALREADY caused complete terminal open-ended diseases lik A.I.D.s & vrCJD - they may ALREADY have started even WORSE from BioTech vaccines like GE-Insulin, where DOZENS of deaths have been already reported!
Here is your campaign:
We killed them - but that's good, because the Earth is "over-populated" anyway!
point two: They died, but they are members of a very small group, who are "genetically defective"- so it's good that they die off....
Remember when you tried to play that game with "spontaneous CJD" - before the same strain was found in French sheep with scapie?
We got tons of the goods on YOU: CRIMINAL ASS-HOLE!
Fuck your lying whore government lackeys!
Fuck your University & professional LYING WHITE-WASH "Ethics" commitees!


When this kind of shit happens in a civilization, IT ALWAYS BRINGS REVOLUTION!
- Is that "proper notice" for you - you cock-sucking killer!!????
( and "FRANKENFOODS taste like SHIT to boot!)
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


by Nosher Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 7:04 PM

My! my! Greenfields is having another tantrum because someone doesn't agree with him. When in doubt just deny everything and use as many four letter words as possible. Is that the strategy? The articles you criticize were well thought out and logical even if you don't agree with their point of view. Disagreeing with someone's point of view and offering a counter argument is called democracy. Shouting someone down, calling them names and using the word FUCK as many times as possible is Fascism if you are on the left, and communism if you are on the right.
If you want reasonable people to accept a reasonable argument then make one, it is your right in a free society. Having tantrums because you can't get your own way is not only childish and puerile but destructive. But maybe that's what you want - destruction without discsussion, revolution without consensus. I hate to think what you were like as a child if your mother didn't buy you an ice-cream! By the way where's the evidence that thousands of children are dying from taking recombinant insulin? perhaps you would prefer them to die without insulin or slaughter hundreds of cows to extract it from their pancreas as was done in the past?

To save you the trouble of responding to this message, maybe I can do it for you;

Fuck you you fucky headed fuck I fucking hope you fucking rot and fucky fuckity fuck you fucking fucker. I hate you and your fucking fucker friends. If you disagree with me one more time I'll fucking rip your fucking head off you fucking fucker. Why don't you all fuck off!
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


by Practice Disobedience Thursday, Jun. 21, 2001 at 9:38 PM

For someone so convinced they know it all, you offer no real retort to a thing I said. It is a well know fallacy of argumentation to attack only the speaker and not what they say. As for me, I left the Biotech field for moral and ethical reasons. You want to know what kind of effects the biocrops are having on the common man who wants more affordable food packed with wholesome nutrients? Talk to Percy Schmeiser this weekend for Biojustice. He is a farmer from Canada whose crops were infected with Monsanto technology from a neighboring field. Canola is one of the easier cross-pollinating crops. Monsanto sued him for royalties because their genes turned up in his 1998 crops. How you ask, because he practices seed saving. His seed carried the traits because of irresponsible open field testing. This ended up costing him a total of 85,000 dollars.
The bacteria and viruses don't 'magically' do anything. Why do you think we come down with 'colds' anyway. Because a virus infects our bodies and takes what it needs to reproduce. That is basic biology. I have done my research on Biopharming as well. My uncle is a pharmaseuticals research head up in Pacifica and we have talked extensively about the ethical implications. Believe me, I know what is going on. The plant production is not necessary by any means. The scientists involved aren't even sure that they will be able to extract usable solutions from the plants because animals do function differently than plants. Every seen a human running around with leaf rust or a plant with TB? They have also discovered that these viruses have been capable of becoming healthy again by the F1 generation and will typically survive through the F7 generation.
As for a bunch of consumers who just want better and cheaper alternatives to the norm, do you really think these companies are going to promote that. They are already patenting life with the arrogance of gods. Both Brazil and India, to use specific examples, rely on cheaper generic pharmaseuticals to serve the masses who need them. Guess what the U.S. companies are trying to do? That's right, they are trying to use the WTO, among other orgs, to make them buy direct or pay out royalties.
Ever heard of horizontal transfer? It has been shown time and time again that the genetic alterations will transfer through natural breeding. The big problem is that there is no way to take these changes back out of the ecosystem. Once there, they are staying around.
So then, the next time you want to accuse someone of ignorance and blowing fluff out their arse, take a look at your own post. I think San Diego needs more people who are willing to take the time to make their own EDUCATED decisions and to talk openly and WITHOUT SO MUCH SWEARING. Personally, it doesn't offend me, I just think it is useless.
Yeah, the article is from late 1999, but guess what, it is still relevant to what is happening today. I understand that my attempt at being concise earlier may have made it sound like a bunch of rhetoric, but come on...did that really deserve your reply?

Here are a few sites that have info on the topic.

Well, that's a good start. I look forward to a further backlash. Then we will start pulling out some of the research I have done rather than just touching on multiple items.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Practice doesn't make Perfect

by Nosher Saturday, Jun. 23, 2001 at 7:47 PM


No wonder you left Biotech, you don't have a fucking clue!

"The bacteria and viruses don't 'magically' do anything. Why do you think we come down with 'colds' anyway. Because a virus infects our bodies and takes what it needs to reproduce."

Come on you can do better than that. Let's hear a sensible arguement

"The scientists involved aren't even sure that they will be able to extract usable solutions from the plants because animals do function differently than plants"

Run that by me again. Now if you had stayed in Biotech, the planet would really be in trouble.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy