Germany, SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Big players desert biotech project


Mannheim – German chemical company BASF, Swiss agribiotech specialist Syngenta and US market leader Monsanto have resigned from a large international project for developing solutions on how to feed the world’s growing population. The three biotech giants said that they would no longer be supporting the project, since a recently released project report failed to back genetically modified crops as a tool for reducing poverty and hunger. The companies argued that the report should back their GM technology as a measure for securing future food supplies because it can boost yields and make plants more resistant. Instead, the report highlighted the risks of GM crops, and said they could pose problems for the developing world. The “International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development” (IAASTD) is based on the work of 4,000 scientists and experts from around the world, and is the body that focuses attention on food issues in much the same way the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has for global warming. Bob Watson, director of the project said he was “very disappointed” by the companies’ move. “Our goal was to have them included”. The draft report says there is a “wide range of perspectives on the environmental, human health and economic risks, and benefits of modern biotechnology, many of which are as yet unknown”. It also says it is not clear whether GM crops actually increase yields, and warns that use of the technology in the developing world could concentrate “ownership of agricultural resources” in the hands of the companies involved, as well as causing problems with patents.



Basel/Berkeley – Europe enters into the age of personalised medicine. The European Commission has approved the melanoma drug Zelboraf. While the compound was developed by US-based Plexxikon Inc., owned by Daiichi Sankyo Group,...



Basel – The rumours started just before Christmas. Roche wants Illumina. Just how dearly, has just become clear. The Swiss drugmaker made a $5.7b hostile bid for Illumina, the current market leader in Next-Generation sequencing....



Basel – Good and bad news for Swiss drugmaker Novartis. First a look on the bright side: Signifor, for the treatment of Cushing's disease, is on its final stretch to approval. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use...



Basel - It is a further push for Roche's ambitions in medicine concerning the treatment of skin cancer: The European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended that the drug Zelboraf and its companion...



Allschwil – Europe’s largest stand-alone biotech company Actelion Ltd. is receiving an injection of fresh capital. Under the guidance of the two biggest Swiss banks – UBS and Credit Suisse – the Swiss company will be issued a...



Stans – Due to the current financial market conditions and the lack of significant progress with currently available options, Swiss drug developer Mondobiotech says it will be implementing restructuring measures. Together with...



Geneva – There's is life in Swiss biotechnology beyond big pharma. Genentech has launched a First-in-Human study with anti-IL-17, an antibody made by the Swiss biotechnology company NovImmune. The fully human monoclonal antibody,...



Basel – The FDA has withdrawn the accelerated approval for Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat metastasising breast cancer. The US regulatory authority had originally granted accelerated approval for Avastin's use in treating...



Basel/Hervel – It may be the end of Novartis' lucky streak in osteoporosis. While the once a year osteoporosis injection Aclasta (a bisphosphonate) sells well, the Swiss pharma company had to break disastrous news from a...

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