2004-07-02 RR Wheat: Syngenta to end biotech crop research in UK, last of big biotech research to pull out of Britain, move to USA. Blow to Universities.
This is interesting. Biotech campanies are being forced out of the UK.
Re-location is to the United States. Think of the implications of that.
1) “Syngenta was the last company to have a significant biotech crop research capability in Britain, following decisions by Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer Cropscience to rein in operations.”
2) “The U.S. National Corn Growers Association estimates the U.S. corn industry has lost $250 million annually because of the EU ban on biotech foods.”
SO: the U.S. has a favourable climate for the chemical/pharmaceutical/transgenic companies, BUT production of the crops will mean that the U.S. is an island unto itself. They will kill their own markets, in the same way as the large Canadian markets for canola were destroyed by the introduction of GMO canola.
UNLESS the transnational corporations, through their purchased influence in the American Government, the WTO, and elsewhere can force the regulators to drop the bans on GMO’s. Can they out-manoeuvre and outlast consumer resistance?
Thanks to Elaine:
UK: July 2, 2004
LONDON – Syngenta will close its genetically modified crop research operation in Britain and move the work to the United States, where the business climate is more favourable, the Swiss chemicals giant says.
The company plans to shift biotech crop research from Jealott’s Hill, west of London, to North Carolina, with the loss of 130 jobs. Jealott’s Hill, which employs a total of 900 people, will concentrate on research into agrochemicals.
“We need to have the research and development work done in the marketplace where we can most effectively do business,” said spokesman Andrew Coker yesterday.
Europe has resisted the introduction of genetically modified crops, in contrast to the United States where strains of grain, soybeans and other crops modified with foreign genes are now widely cultivated.
Syngenta was the last company to have a significant biotech crop research capability in Britain, following decisions by Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer Cropscience to rein in operations.
The firm’s move, first reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement, is a blow for UK academic research, given Syngenta’s sponsorship of much university work, said Michael Wilson, a professor of plant biology at Warwick University.
Equity analysts, however, said the decision was of limited commercial significance, since the biotech work would continue in a different geographical setting.
Shares in Syngenta were trading 0.7 percent higher at 105.75 Swiss francs in a steady European stock market by 10:15 a.m. The stock was underpinned by better-than-expected quarterly results from U.S. rival Monsanto on Wednesday which reflecting strong demand from farmers for herbicides.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed Syngenta’s decision and said the company had misjudged the market for genetically modified crops in Britain and Europe.
In May, the European Union lifted an effective five-year ban on biotech crops which had angered its top trading partners, including the United States.
(INSERT: This is a very misleading presentation of the information. The EU did NOT lift the ban on biotech crops, as the next paragraph will show. The U.S. was angered because the lifting of the ban applied ONLY to one product: imported sweet corn used to feed livestock. The biotech industry remains thwarted in getting its wares into Europe.)
But the end to the ban applied only to a variety of imported sweetcorn (INSERT: that is fed to livestock – it is not for human consumption). EU farmers still cannot grow the biotech corn themselves.
(INSERT: In May, Marian from the NFU (National Farmers Union) had looked at the impact of this on stock market prices. On the day of the announcement, Syngenta’s share price declinced in Europe while simultaneously rising in the New York market. I wonder whether it’s because the North American news service presented information as it is in this article, which makes it look like the lifting of a ban, when really it wasn’t? The European media were more analytical and saw through “the spin”?)
The U.S. National Corn Growers Association estimates the U.S. corn industry has lost $250 million annually because of the EU ban on biotech foods.
(INSERT: the argument is consistently presented that Europe is to blame, whereas the blame truly lies with producers, on the Corn Growers in this instance. It was stupid of them to grow crops that the markets do not want. If they did it out of ignorance, or because of propaganda, that is unfortunate, but the fact remains that they chose to grow the crops that the markets don’t want. There is a kind of arrogance in the argument.)
Through genetic modification, scientists have developed crops that are resistant to disease, insects and weedkillers and supporters of the technology say it will benefit farmers and well as the environment.
(INSERT: statements like this do not reflect the reality which is that genetic manipulation is NOT being used “for the common good”, but rather to benefit a few transnational corporations, at the expense of the greater public good.)
But critics fear risks to human health as well as the environment and claim the biotech companies controlling the crops threaten farmer independence.
Story by Ben Hirschler
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE