Volume 4 Issue 9 September 1996.
Saskatoon's Public Biotech Infrastructure Continues to Expand
Saskatchewan is widely-recognized as a leading centre of Canada's agbiotech industry. The thirty firms which are located in the province 30 per cent of Canada's total had 400 employees, sales of $42.5 million, and R&D expenditures of $29.5 million in 1995. Sales are expected to surpass $300 million by the year 2000.
Key to the success of Saskatchewan's private agbiotech sector is the extensive public research and development infrastructure located mainly in Saskatoon. Some 15 public institutions, including federal, provincial, and university agencies, spend $60 million annually on biotechnology research.
The following survey of public agencies indicates the breadth of public research activities in Saskatoon, and offers highlights of recent developments and past achievements.
Federal Government Agencies:
National Research Council/Plant Biotechnology Institute
The Plant Biotechnology Institute (PBI) produces new, exploitable biotechnologies for agriculture with the objective of diversifying crops and crop products. Its primary focus is the improvement of Canadian crops, specifically Brassicas, cereals, and grain legumes. PBI has annual R&D expenditures of $10 million and employs 112 people, including 45 scientists.
Major research areas include:
- Brassica biotechnology PBI's Brassica group develops superior performance qualities in Brassicas, such as altered nutritional composition and herbicide, insect and, disease tolerance.
Contact: Dr. Wilf Keller at 306/975-5569 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cereal biotechnology PBI scientists have developed proprietary technologies to produce transgenic wheat, barley, and other cereals. They are currently engineering starch modifications in wheat.
Contact: Dr. Ravindra Chibbar at 306/975-5574 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- Legume biotechnology Researchers are working on stable transformation systems for peas and other legumes, with the objective of incorporating improved agronomic and nutritional traits.
Contact: Dr. John Mahon at 306/975-5586 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seed oil modification Research is aimed at creating transgenic oilseeds with seed storage oil profiles suitable for industrial applications.
Contact: Dr. Sam MacKenzie at 306/975-5257 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- Growth regulation Research is aimed at genetic engineering of the abscisic acid content of plants.
Contact: Dr. Sue Abrams at 306/975-5333 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Promoter technology This team is developing gene identification systems, a bank of plant regulatory elements, and novel systems for targeted gene expression in transgenic crops. Contact: Gopalan Selvaraj at 306/975-5577 or by e- mail at email@example.com
- Gene expression Research focuses on protein-protein interactions and their effect on the regulation of gene expression.
Contact: Dr. Sean Hemmingsen at 306/975-5242 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Business activities PBI welcomes joint ventures with business; performs contract research; licenses new technologies; accepts guest researchers and student placements; and provides technical and consultancy services and lab space.
Contact: Ms. Simran Trana, Business Development Officer, at 306/975-5268 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Saskatoon Research Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Saskatoon Research Centre has been positioned as the department's centre for western oilseeds research and the headquarters of Plant Gene Resources of Canada (see sidebar). Forage crops are an additional research focus.
Major research areas include:
- Oilseeds AAFC is a world leader in canola research. Activities include production of canola and mustard varieties with improved agronomic and product characteristics; development of varieties with enhanced disease and pest resistance; and identification of novel sources of germplasm for oil and meal. Major developments include blackleg resistant and yellow-seeded haploid lines of Argentine canola.
Contact: Dr. Ashley O'Sullivan at 306/956-7200 or by e-mail at OsullivanPA@em.agr.ca
- Weed biocontrol group The weed biocontrol group is focused on the discovery and development of plant pathogens with a potential to aid in the control of common weed species. Pathogens are being assessed for Canada thistle, green foxtail, wild oats, downey brome, and leafy spurge. With some 100 pathogens now identified, the group is conducting an evaluation to prioritize five with the most promise as biocontrols. Once the biocontrols have been identified, fermentation and application technologies will be developed. Research also involves the use of genetic engineering.
To be effective as biocontrols, most pathogens require a damper environment than is typical of the semi-arid prairies. Genetic modifications are aimed at adding enzymes which would enhance the speed at which pathogens can penetrate target plants. A spray technology group is also studying where to place pathogens on the weeds for optimum results.
Contact: Dr. Karen Bailey at 956-7260; fax 956-7247; e- mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Biocontrol of Insect Pests The program includes R&D on two main types of biological control agents, including both classical and inundative biological control of insect pests using insect parasites, as well as the potential use of microbial pathogens affecting insect pests.
The research team has experience and the facilities to conduct research in various aspects of insect and microbial control agents including exploration and discovery of exotic and native agents, biological and biochemical characterization of biological control agents, in vitro and in vivo biological assessment of the potential efficacy of these agents, genetic modification of agents, and field scale assessment of efficacy including the role of application technology in enhancing the efficacy of biological control agents. The research program mainly focuses on insect pests of oilseed crops of the Canadian prairie region but addresses some insect pests of cereal crops.
Current projects are aimed at developing biocontrol agents for lepidopteran pests of canola, grasshoppers, flea beetles, and wheat aphids.
Contact: Dr. Martin Erlandson at 956-7276 or by e-mail at email@example.com
The headquarters of the Plant Gene Resource Centre of Canada has been relocated to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Saskatoon Research Centre.
The Centre manages Canada's collection of some 110,000 seed accessions for crops and related wild species, providing access to new germplasm material for plant breeding. The collection of cereals, oilseeds, and forages is drawn from national and international sources.
The Centre will employ thirteen people in a new state-of-the- art building which will be completed by the end of 1997. Seed storage will continue to be handled in several facilities throughout the country. Saskatoon will continue to house the Cruciferae collection; the forage node will be relocated to Saskatoon from Ottawa. All seed viability testing will occur in Saskatoon. Brassicas and forage seeds will be regrown in Saskatoon following a ten year cycle. In addition to seed storage, a computer database at the Saskatoon facility will handle inventory and agronomic and nutritional information.
Contact: Dr. Ken Richards at 306/956-7641 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Saskatchewan Departments and Agencies:
- Applied Microbiology and Food Science The department employs between 30 and 60 people, has biotechnology revenues of $400,000, and overall R&D expenditures of $1.2 million. Agbiotech activities involve R&D on food biotechnology, including publication of the first textbook on Food Biotechnology: Microorganisms, and the development of microbial pest controls. Contact: Dr. Robert Tyler at 306/966-5024.
- Bio Insecticide Research Laboratory Formed in the Applied Microbiology department in 1982, the lab specializes in the development of fungal biocontrol agents for pests in food crops and forestry around the world. The lab employs approximately 5 people and has a budget of $250,000.
Contact: Dr. George Khachatourians at 306/966-5032 or 966-5049 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
- Horticultural Science - The department has developed tissue culture systems for poppies, lilies, ginseng, strawberries, and potatoes.
Contact: Dr. B.L. Harvey at 306/966-5855 or by e- mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ag-West Biotech Inc. Ag-West is a non-profit company partnered with the government of Saskatchewan which facilitates agbiotech initiatives in the province through funding assistance, promotion, and technology transfer. Ag- West has an annual budget of $1.1 million, and employs seven.
Contact: Dr. William Riley at 306/975-1939 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- Animal Biotechnology Centre Located at the University of Saskatchewan, the Centre researches immune stimulants, adjuvants, growth enhancement, feed efficiency, fertility control, and stress-immune-growth interactions. A major achievement was the founding of Minerva Animal Health Corporation.
Contact: Dr. Bernard Laarveld at 306/966-4972 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bioproducts Centre The Centre is a consortium of corporations, university departments, and government agencies which has as an objective of the discovery and commercialization of biological control agents for crop protection and plant growth enhancement.
Contact: Peter McCann at 306/668-2652 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- Canadian Value Added Cereals Consortium This consortium of companies, producer groups and university/government agencies is involved in the development of new crop characteristics and novel processing techniques which can offer a competitive advantage for the Canadian cereal industry in world markets.
Contact: Peter McCann at 306/668-2652 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Crop Development Centre Formed in 1971 with funding from the National Research Council and the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture, the Centre, located at the University of Saskatchewan, has developed 90 crop varieties; established the growing of pulse crops in Saskatchewan; and pioneered the genetic engineering of flax. The Centre has 156 personnel.
Contact: Dr. Gordon Rowland at 306/966-4977 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- POS Pilot Plant Corporation POS (Protein, Oil, Starch) is a non-profit research and development facility specializing in value-added agri-product technologies. POS has 80 employees and annual sales and revenues of $3.2 million, including biotech sales of $1.9 million. Nuvotech Ventures International is the commercial arm of POS.
Contact: Roy Carr at 306/975-7066 or toll free at 800/230-2751 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saskatchewan Research Council The Council's newly formed Agricultural Biotechnology group unites various elements of its agriculture-related services. The Genetics group, including the Bovine Blood Typing Lab and the DNA Lab, provide blood and DNA diagnostic services for a variety of livestock, including exotic species. Services include verification of parentage and detection of abnormalities and performance traits. The Fermentation Technologies group provides research and development services to the biotech sector, with a major focus on non-food agriculture. Ethanol and bio-oil research are major interests. The Technology Commercialization Group supports new initiatives, both local and foreign, by assisting in the development and marketing of technologies, products, and services. SRC's agbiotech group has 18 employees and research/service revenues of $1.5 million.
Contact: Dr. Jerome Konecsni at 306/933-6670 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- VIDO The Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization is involved in the development of innovative animal health products. VIDO has produced a number of vaccines which have been commercialized, including the world's first veterinary vaccines using recombinant technology. VIDO has 55 employees and an annual operating budget of $4 million. It established the company BIOSTAR to commercialize its products.
Contact: Dr. Lorne Babiuk at 306/966-7465 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
AFIF - Agricultural Biotechnology Program Call for Proposals
The Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund has called for proposals under the Agricultural Biotechnology Program. Letters of intent will be accepted in two categories; Research and Development and Infrastructure and Shared Services.
The objectives of the Research and Development proposals should be:
- To support focused research projects leading to the development of enabling bio-technologies for benefit of Saskatchewan agriculture and agri-food industries.
- To support, in a range of partnership agreements with private and public entities, the development or application of proprietary or non-proprietary agriculture biotechnology products of relevance to the Saskatchewan agri-food industry.
The objectives for the Infrastructure and Shared Services proposals would cover:
- To develop industry-wide accessible infrastructure, services and/or equipment that will directly facilitate the successful completion of biotechnology research projects, and the commercialization of biotechnological agricultural products for Saskatchewan and markets world-wide.
- To develop or provide equipment and/or services for the further development of Saskatchewan's agri-food industries, that relate to or employ biotechnology techniques.
Following a review of the letters of intent a comprehensive, detailed application will be required from selected applicants. Further selection based on the detailed proposals will result in a contract and funding from the Agri-Food Innovation Fund to complete the project.
The format for the Letter of Intent can be obtained from the Secretariat. It should be on no more than two pages.
All proposals supported will be consistent with the Agri-Food Innovation Fund's general Agreement Conditions and Policies and will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Ability of project to contribute to a sustainable and competitive industry.
- Potential for financial and public good benefits to flow to Saskatchewan.
- Technical and commercial feasibility (likelihood to succeed).
- Overall project cost and duration of impact.
- Environmental sustainability of project and its products.
- Record of performance on past projects.
- Extent activities will occur in Saskatchewan.
Letters of Intent should be mailed to the address below in a sealed envelope marked: Agriculture Biotechnology Sector (R & D/Infrastructure and Shared Services) post marked no later than September 30, 1996.
Contact: Agri-Food Innovation Fund Secretariat, Room 329, 3085 Albert Street, Regina, Sk. S4S 0B1; Phone 306/787-6566; fax 306/787-2654.
AgrEvo Purchases PGS
Hoechst Schering AgrEvo GmbH and PGS International N.V. (PGS) announced that they have signed a definitive acquisition agreement. AgrEvo, which is held 60% by Hoechst AG and 40% by Schering AG, will acquire more than 75% of PGS for an aggregate consideration of approximately U.S. $550 million on August 30, 1996. AgrEvo will tender for the remaining shares of PGS at an equivalent consideration pursuant to an offer to be made to the remaining shareholders.
The acquisition of the plant biotechnology company, PGS, by AgrEvo is good news for Canadian farmers, in particular the Canadian canola grower, says Maurice Delage, President and CEO of AgrEvo North America.
The combined research and development efforts of PGS and AgrEvo, coupled with AgrEvo's strong market presence in the canola growing regions of Canada, will ensure market success for high yielding hybrids, disease resistance, herbicide tolerance and other value-added traits in Canada's most important oilseed crop.
The new AgrEvo/PGS Team will ensure that Canadian canola growers will strengthen their competitive edge in the global oilseed market.
PGS has a wide range of new gene technologies in the pipeline, but the most immediate impact will be in canola. PGS hybrid canolas have already received approval in the Canadian market. These new canolas are resistant to the herbicide Liberty, which means more options for growers using the highly-rated Liberty Link canola production system.
PGS has a major research investment in Saskatoon, Sask., employing more than 20 people. This acquisition will double the size of the AgrEvo research and development team working in canola technology at Innovation Place. PGS also has a seed production facility in southern Alberta.
Demand for canola products worldwide is increasing, and the new synergies that result from this combined research effort, will help ensure Canada retains its place as the premiere supplier of canola oil to the world.
Established in 1982, PGS is a leader in plant biotechnology. PGS is in Amsterdam and has its principal research facilities in Ghent, Belgium. PGS employs approximately 140 people and has operations in Europe, North America and India. The company possesses know-how and a broad portfolio of patents covering important traits and enabling technologies for genetically modified plants. The company's first-generation products, including corn, oilseed rape and selected vegetables engineered for insect protection, herbicide tolerance and pollination control, are close to market. PGS' hybrid oilseed seeds have already been approved for market introduction in Canada and the European Union. PGS is also active in the areas of disease tolerance and quality traits.
AgrEvo is one of the world's largest research-based crop protection and environmental health companies. The company has already established an important position in plant biotechnology and has a significant product development pipeline. In Canada, AgrEvo has already become the first company to market genetically modified oilseed rape. Its Liberty Link oilseed rape, which is tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate, provides farmers with one-shot, post-emergence weed control. Importantly, Liberty Link allows minimum till farming thus also helping to conserve valuable soil moisture. Liberty Link corn is expected to be launched in 1997 in the U.S. and in 1998 in Europe.
The market for plants genetically engineered with novel traits is expected to provide significant growth opportunities for AgrEvo. It has been estimated that the market for such plants will reach $6 billion worldwide by 2005. Several crops, including corn, oilseed rape, cotton and certain vegetables are currently the major focus of research attention. PGS and AgrEvo have identified several opportunities to create synergies in each of these crop areas and have already collaborated on several projects, including Liberty Link. The acquisition of PGS underlines AgrEvo's commitment to plant biotechnology and will considerably strengthen the company's position in bringing new products to market. PGS' facilities in Ghent will become a center of excellence for AgrEvo's activities in biotechnology.
According to Dr. Gerhard Prante, AgrEvo Chairman and CEO, "this acquisition is part of an innovative strategy for growth at AgrEvo and allows us to build quickly the critical mass required to compete at a global level in plant biotechnology. The strength of AgrEvo in crop protection and environmental health will help drive the market introduction and acceptance of the products that we and PGS began developing more than 10 years ago." He added that, "AgrEvo, with PGS, will be able to create ever greater value for its shareholders, customers, employees and the public at large."
Walter De Logi, PGS Managing Director and CEO, expressed satisfaction with the acquisition, "Our agreement today is very favorable to PGS shareholders and employees and I am extremely pleased that we are now to be part of AgrEvo." De Logi added that, "our combined technologies address the fundamental challenge to improve agricultural productivity and to do so in an environmentally responsible manner. Together we will help change the face of agriculture as we know it."
For more information, contact: Brent Kennedy, Director, Research and Development, AgrEvo at 1-800-667-7862.
Beef Development Centre Established
A Beef Development Centre (BDC) has been officially established by the University of Saskatchewan. The Centre, a strategic partnership involving the Canadian beef industry, government, and the University of Saskatchewan, will focus on enhanced profitability in the beef industry through the creation of new markets, new products, and improved performance. Activities will include innovative research, knowledge transfer, and building linkages for a sustainable industry.
The BDC will be governed by a 14 member board drawn from industry, the university and government. At present, facilities will include existing feedlots at the university of Saskatchewan and the Termuende site at Lanigan. Funding will be sought from various sources, with a goal of self- sufficiency within five years.
Proponents of the BDC believe that Saskatchewan is uniquely positioned to take advantage of opportunities being created by the restructuring of prairie agriculture in the post-Crow, free-trade environment. Its large land base and feed resources create opportunities for a vastly increased beef production and processing industry. The BDC is seen as a vehicle to identify and capture these opportunities in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.
Contact: Dr. George Lee, Co-ordinator of Agricultural Research, University of Saskatchewan at 306/966-4057; fax 306/966-8597; e-mail email@example.com
Plant Tissue Culture Conference in Saskatoon
Researchers from university, industry, and government laboratories met in Saskatoon in June to discuss recent achievements in plant tissue culture and genetic engineering. The 250 participants at the 4th Plant Tissue Culture and Genetic Engineering Conference reviewed developments in embryogenesis; advances in genetic transformation technology; and efforts to enhance commercialization of new technologies.
Developments in cereal biotechnology include the use of doubled haploids derived through microspore culture to develop cultivars, to aid molecular mapping projects, and to rapidly fix traits in interspecific crosses. It was reported that over 60 doubled haploid barley varieties have been developed.
Commercial production of somatic embryos usable as synthetic seed was reported for a number of species, including conifers. Improved embryo quality has been achieved through production technology.
Advances in transgenic cereal crop techniques were discussed, including particle bombardment and the enhanced regeneration system [ERS] which together have been used to achieve herbicide tolerance. An objective for the ERS-based system is the incorporation of a modified starch trait.
Forest tree species are proving amenable to Agrobacterium or particle bombardment methodologies. A target of transformations could be the modification of lignin constitution and content in poplar trees.
Participants also reviewed commercialization activities, including regulatory procedures and consumer issues, noting that technical development must go hand in hand with public acceptance of biotechnology.
For more information on the conference contact: Dr. David Dunstan at 306/975-5283; Dr. Alison Ferrie at 306/975-5993; Simran Trana at 306/975-5568.
Oat and Barley Conference
Over 500 people attended the 5th International Oat Conference and the 7th International Barley Genetics Symposium, held concurrently in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in August. The conference was organized and hosted by the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan with the support of 45 corporate sponsors.
The 525 participants represented 41 countries, with 250 coming from outside North America. Forty-nine invited oral presentations were featured, along with 280 volunteered poster presentations. Organizers report that approximately half of the conference presentations were devoted to biotechnology. Other presentations focused on nutrition, grain quality, and germplasm conservation.
This was the first time that the two groups have met together, and the first time either conference was held in Canada. The next barley symposium is slated for Adelaide, Australia. The venue for the oat conference is yet to be determined.
Contact: Drs. Brian Rossnagel, Graham Scoles, or Brian Harvey at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Phone 306/ 966-4946.
Root Maggots Eating Up Canola Yields
Two species of crucifer root maggots are becoming significant pests in prairie canola crops. Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report that the maggots, first reported in commercial canola crops in Alberta in 1981, may be behind increasing reports of mediocre yields following heavy canola bloom.
The pests damage crops by feeding on and tunneling into roots. Severe infestations can cause wilting, decreased vigor, stunting, yellowing, poor seed set, or even death. Plants with heavily mined roots are susceptible to breakage at the soil surface. Major tunnels also become entry points for soil pathogens such as root rot fungi.
Studies underway at AAFC's Saskatoon Research Centre include the screening of breeding lines for resistance to root maggot. This is the first step in developing resistant canola.
Contact: Dr. Julie Soroka at 306/956-7294 or by e-mail at SorokaJ@em.agr.ca
Biotech Centre for New Brunswick
A $3 million biotechnology centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick is being touted as the centerpiece of a federal- provincial farm safety net package. The New Brunswick Biotechnology Centre of Excellence is designed to help farmers adapt biotech discoveries for commercial use. Both levels of government will contribute $1.5 million to the project.
Monsanto Receives Sustainable Development Award
Monsanto has received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development from the US President's Council on Sustainable Development. The award was given in recognition of the company's efforts to implement sustainable technologies and reduce toxic emissions and waste.
New Patents for Canola Seed Gene Promoter, Colored Cotton
Calgene Inc. has been granted a US patent for Bce4, a canola seed gene promoter. Seed-specific promoters ensure that only plant storage oils are affected by transgenic oil genes while the rest of the plant is unaffected.
A second patent was issued for a gene construct for expressing the pigmentation gene, melanin, in cotton fibre. The patent is the first ever to cover a pigment alteration. Calgene also has blue and red fibres under development.
Contact: Carolyn Hayworth, Calgene Inc. at 916/753-6313.
Transgenic Crop Imports Approved by Japanese Panel
A Japanese government committee on food biotechnology has approved the import of seven transgenic products into Japan, according to a Ministry of Health official. The committee's recommendation will be considered by the health minister in September, and it is anticipated that imports may be possible by year end.
Mucosal Immunization/Genetic Vaccines
International Business Communications (IBC) 4th Annual International Conference on Mucosal Immunization - Genetic Approaches and Adjuvants will be held October 21-22, 1996 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC.
IBC's 2nd Annual Conference on Genetic Vaccines and Immunotherapeutic Strategies will be held in the same venue from October 23-24, 1996.
Contact: IBC USA Conferences Inc., 225 Turnpike Road, Southborough, MA 01772-1749 USA. Phone 508/481-6400 or fax 508/481-7911.
Genetic Analysis in Livestock
Allerton II Genetic Analysis of Economically Important Traits in Livestock Conference is slated for November 6-9, 1996 in Allerton Park, Illinois.
Contact: E-mail at allertonII@c3po.ceps.uiuc.edu. WEB site at http://www.conted.ceps.uiuc.edu/allertonII
Plant and Animal Genome V
Plant and Animal Genome V (PAG-V) is scheduled for January 12- 16, 1997 in San Diego, California. Abstracts for the previous four conferences are available on the Web at http://probe.nalusda.gov:8000. Participants are now invited to submit abstracts for the PAG-V poster session (either in hard copy or by e-mail) by November 4, 1996.
Contact: Darrin Scherago, Scherago International Inc., 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 1003, New York, NY 10001. Phone 212/643- 1750; fax 212/643-1758; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Thousand Projects in Europe
Two thousand projects related to the development of transgenic crops are underway in countries of the European Union, according to the report European Crop Biotechnology. Cereals, potatoes, and oilseed rape are the chief targets for genetic transformation. Twenty-five per cent of the projects are aimed at disease control or prevention and nine per cent at alterations of crop quality, while 40 per cent involve basic plant science relevant to the improvement of specific crops. Only four per cent of projects have herbicide resistance as a goal. The investigation of new plant breeding techniques is another important area of research.
Despite this research activity, the tighter regulatory environment in Europe means that less research is making its way from the lab to field trials than is the case in North America. There were just 500 field releases in Europe between 1991 and 1995; by comparison, some 500 releases occurred in Canada in 1995 alone. The regulatory environment in the EU varies considerably from country to country; France, for example, is considerably more liberal in issuing permits for field trials than is Britain or Germany. Subsequently, 30 per cent of field trials occurred in France, 17 per cent in Britain, and just 9 percent in Germany.
Contact: L.P. Meredith Lloyd-Evans at Biobridge, Cambridge, UK. Fax 44-1223-566851.
Herbicide Resistance on the Prairies
Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Saskatoon Research Centre are joining the effort to combat herbicide resistance in weeds. To get a handle on the extent of the problem, field survey data collected in collaboration with provincial extension agrologists will be used to produce a distribution map to indicate the location and abundance of weeds resistant to certain herbicides. A 1995 weed survey identified 275 fields throughout the province as being at high risk for developing resistance.
The Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Crop Protection Laboratory in Regina has a new facility to test weeds suspected of having herbicide resistance. Producers are being asked to cooperate by sending in seed samples from weeds suspected of being resistant.
Researchers will also look for situations of cross resistance (resistance to more than one product within a herbicide group) and multiple resistance (resistance to different groups of herbicides). Once researchers have tracked down herbicide resistant weeds, they will recommend control measures to ensure that the situation doesn't get out-of-hand.
Contact: Hugh Beckie at 306/956-7251 or by e-mail at BeckieH@em.agr.ca
Monsanto Ups Stake in Calgene
Monsanto will increase its ownership of Calgene, Inc. to 54.6 per cent. The influx of US$50 million into Calgene through the purchase of additional shares is intended to provide the capital required to help the company realize the potential of its biotech discoveries. The capital will be used to reduce interest expenses and fund a production scale-up for new products.
Calgene also announced that Roger Salquist has resigned from his positions as Chair and CEO of the company. Salquist will remain a director and consultant to Calgene.
The French firm Groupe Limagrain has licensed Brassica transformation and molecular farming patents for the production of pharmaceutical proteins in transgenic plants from the American biotech company Calgene. Calgene holds a European patent for the production of all mammalian proteins in plants.
Mycogen is acquiring the rights to the technology for high oleic sunflowers and high erucic and high oleic rapeseed from Lubrizol/SVO Specialty Products. AC Humko is purchasing SVO's high oleic sunflower business. The arrangement will see Mycogen produce crude oleic sunflower oil exclusively for AC Humko in North America, while AC Humko will own Lubrizol's former patent rights to the specialty sunflower seeds and oils.
Commercialization of Food Pathogen Detection Kit
A rapid test kit for screening food samples for the presence of Escherichia coli 0157:H7, the causative agent of "hamburger disease", has been developed by scientists at Agriculture Canada. B.W. Blais and L.M.Phillippe are with the department's Laboratory Services Division, Food Production and Inspection Branch, in Ottawa. The test has been licensed to Kalyx Biosciences of Nepean, Ontario and is now commercially available under the name E. Coli 0157 Rapitest.
The kit provides for the rapid, convenient, and inexpensive testing for bacteria in foods such as ground beef. It is expected to be especially attractive to the food industry and regulatory agencies who must routinely screen large numbers of samples. Utilizing a unique solid phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) system, the test has an assay time of 40 minutes, requires no special equipment, and has multi-sample capability. Agriculture Canada will receive a royalty on sales of the kit.
Contact: Burton Blais at 613/759-1267, or Kalyx Biosciences Inc at 613/723-1114 or 613/723-8777 (fax).
Monsanto Builds New Posilac Plant
Monsanto has announced plans to build a new facility slated to open in 1999 which will manufacture Posilac, the brand name of the company's recombinant bovine somatotropin product. Sales of Posilac are up 40 per cent in the first half of 1996 compared to the same period in 1995.
Biosafety Protocol Stalled Over Liability Issue
Agreement on a draft protocol covering the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) under the UN Biodiversity Convention has stalled on the question of liability. Several representatives of developing nations attending meetings in Aarhus, Denmark are attempting to widen the scope of a protocol covering transborder movement of GMOs to include, among other things, a clause that provides compensation in the event that a GMO release damages human health and the environment or has a negative impact on traditional agriculture.
Representatives of several European countries are resisting the introduction of such a clause on the grounds that stronger regulations will inhibit the development of the biotech industry. The meeting is also at odds over definitions of GMOs, whether these include only Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) or also products arising from processes involving genetic engineering. However, all the delegates agree that an exporter of a GMO should obtain prior agreement from the importing country and comply with local biosafety regulations.
A draft text of the protocol is expected to be complete by 1998.
Sexual Discrimination in Science
Copies of a research paper are submitted to a group of reviewers. All copies are the same, except that some are attributed to John T. McKay and others to Joan T. McKay. The reviewers, both men and women, rate the paper with the male name higher than the paper with the female name.
According to an article in The Economist (June 22, 1996), such incidents (the incident cited occurred during a research study in 1983) are indications that sexism is alive and well in the scientific community although, as in this case, it is not necessarily perpetrated by men alone.
"Scientific sexism" may begin at an early age. Research indicates that parents tend to doubt the scientific abilities of daughters, and to aspire to success for their boys and happiness for their girls. Later, lack of child care may inhibit women from pursuing demanding studies and careers in science; that thesis may explain why there are many more female scientists in countries such as Hungary, which has plenty of child care facilities.
Research also shows that women may have a somewhat different approach to science than men. It may be just as valid but does not meet male-defined criteria for success, criteria such as "Publish or Perish". Studies show that women scientists write fewer papers than their male counterparts. The interpretation of this tends to be that women are less successful. However, studies also show that female-written papers are more likely to be cited by other scientists, suggesting that, though fewer, they may be better.
One more problem area for women scientists may be the greater difficulty they face in maintaining informal contacts. Much information about promotions, grants, and administrative strategy is shared by colleges over a game of tennis or a drink, something women are often reluctant to initiate with male colleagues.
Such scientific sexism results in more women dropping out of their careers at all levels, from first year through graduate school and beyond. Even though the proportion of women studying science is now high, a smaller proportion make it all the way to the workplace, and few find themselves in senior positions.
Biotechnology Industry In Saskatoon Profiled
The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority has published a 1996/97 directory of biotech companies and support agencies in Saskatoon.
Nineteen companies and 28 public support agencies are profiled, including key contacts, current activities, major achievements, sales/revenue/ personnel figures, facilities, alliances, and collaborations sought. The charge for the directory is $20.00.
Contact: Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA), 345 Third Avenue South, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 1M6. Phone 306/664-0720; 306/244-5033.
COST Agriculture and Biotechnology Programme
Researchers from 27 countries are involved in 14 networks that have been established by the COST Agriculture and Biotechnology Programme of the European Union. Seven new COST proposals involve biotechnology of soil; estimating the agricultural contribution to eutrophication; microbial inoculants in agriculture and environment; the role of organic waste in sustaining agriculture; a multidiscinplinary approach to salinity; and lentiviruses of sheep and goats.
Contact: For contacts and information contact Dr. Owen Doyle, NAVBC, Biotechnology Building. University College, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Phone 353-1-706-2801; fax 353-1- 269-2016.
Program for Agricultural Co-operative Education
The College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan has introduced a Program for Agricultural Cooperative Education (PACE). PACE is a three-way partnership between students, employers, and the college involving alternating semesters of academic education with planned and supervised related work experience in business, industry, or government. While providing students with opportunities for experiential learning, the program also gives employers access to well- motivated employees for short-term projects, or for evaluation for later longer-term employment.
Contact: PACE, College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A8. Phone 306/966-7766; fax 306/966-7788; e-mail PAGE@usask.ca; home page at http://www.ag.usask.ca/cofa/PACE
Biotech Opportunities in Upper Midwest/Mountain States
The Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis has published a resource called the Biotechnology Opportunity Guide of Upper Midwest and Mountain States.
The guide is aimed at Canadians interested in biotechnology research and commercial activity in the states in the region of the consulate: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming. As well as general information, the guide provides addresses and specific information for numerous non-profit organizations, industries, and business development agencies active in all aspects of biotechnology.
Contact: Lisa Swenson, Canadian Consulate General, 701 4th Avenue South, Suite 900, Minneapolis, MN USA 55415-1899. Phone 612/332-7486 ext. 3356.
Pest Management News
Pest Management News is a 20 page, not-for-profit publication produced quarterly in English or French to facilitate communication and technology-sharing among pest management practitioners.
Contact: PMN, Box 35009, Ottawa, Canada, K1Z 1A2
July Wilson has resigned her position as Manager of the Business Development Office, Western Region, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The office is located in Saskatoon. Sandy Bresciani is now acting manager. Agriculture Canada sources in Ottawa report that their business development office in Saskatoon will be expanded in the future, with possible staff relocations from the Ottawa office.
Agriculture Hall of Fame
Dr. Keith Downey has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame. Downey , a long-time senior researcher for Agriculture Canada in Saskatoon, is noted for his involvement in the development of thirteen rapeseed/canola and five mustard varieties. C.M. "Red" Williams, another inductee, is a former head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Williams was instrumental in changes to the beef grading system which resulted in improvements in the feeding of beef cattle.
Agricultural Institute of Canada
Ronald D. Weisenburger has assumed the presidency of the Agricultural Institute of Canada for 1996-97. Weisenburger is a past president of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists.
Canadian Seed Trade Association
Robert Morgan assumed the presidency of the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) at the organization's annual meeting in July. Morgan is Manager of Agricultural Research and Development for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
Morgan replaces Bill Parks, Vice-president of Pioneer Hi-bred (Canada), who has completed his one year term of office as CSTA president.
Advisory Council on Science & Technology
Prime Minister Jean Chretien has announced the 12 members of the new Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACST), which has a mandate to review the nation's performance in S&T, identify emerging issues, and advise on a "forward looking agenda". The council members are: Hon. John Manley, Minister of Industry (Chair); Hon. Jon Gerrard, Secretary of State (Science, Research, and Development) (Vice- Chair); Andre Caille, Gas Metropolitain; Stefan Dupre, Canadian Institute of Advanced Research; Pierre Fortier, Innovitech; William McLean, IBM; Larry O'Brien, Calian Technology; Jane Pagel, Philip Environmental; Martha Piper, University of Alberta; Gedas Sakus, Nortel Technologies; Rene Simard, University of Montreal; Michael Smith, University of British Columbia; Susan Smith, Royal Bank of Canada; and Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, University College of Cape Breton.
Canadian Research Management Association
Dr. Anne Alper is the new Executive Director of the Canadian Research Management Association, replacing Clem Bowman.
Association of Provincial Research Organizations
Graham Taylor has resigned his position as President and Managing Director of the Association of Provincial Research Organizations (APRO) to become Director of Business Development at the Communications Research Centre in Ottawa. APRO has merged with the Canadian Manufacturers Association and the Canadian Exporters Association to form the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada (AMEC).
Dr. Don Woods has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of Synsorb Biotech of Calgary. Woods is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network and former chair of the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.
Dr. James Ryan has been appointed Director of Bioresearch Ireland, succeeding Barry McSweeney. Ryan was also appointed recently to the Board of the Saskatoon-based Global Agricultural Biotechnology Association (GABA).
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