Australasian Biotechnology (backfiles)
AusBiotech
ISSN: 1036-7128
1999
President's Report Australasian Biotechnology,
Volume 9 Number 1, March/April 1999, pp. 48-60

ABA NEWS

Code Number:AU99004

President's Report

Dr Anne Campbell

In reviewing progress against the five areas the present ABA Directors had chosen to focus on initially, it is pleasing to be able to report good activity in all areas since the last issue of the Journal.

ABA NEWS

ABA Meets Senator Minchin's Advisers

On Thursday 25th February, five Melbourne based corporate members of the ABA took up the opportunity at short notice to meet with Kieran Schneemann, Chief of Staff and Genevieve Bessell, Science Adviser for Senator Minchin, the Minister for Industry Science and Resources.

The corporate members were lead by: David Trive, Director of ABA from the University of Melbourne, and included Naomi Stevens for AgroEvo; Dean Moss and Marcia Ward for AMRAD, Ian Ray for Chiron, Lance Schlipaulius for Betatene and Peter Rodgers for Carlton United Breweries(also a Director of ABA). This assembly presented a good cross section of small and large players in the Australian Biotechnology industry. The group met in the foyer of the DISR building in Collins Street an hour before the meeting to introduce themselves and share issues of relevance to their businesses and worthy of discussion and support during the time with the Ministers Advisers.

BOOK REVIEWS

Protein Stability and Folding - A Collection of Thermodynamic Data. 1998

Engineering Genesis: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering in Non-Human Species

Australian Venture Capital Guide 1999

Biotechnobase

AgraBiotech Newsletter

Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

MEETINGS

PRODUCT NEWS

ABA OFFICE BEARERS

ABA NEWS

President's Report

Dr Anne Campbell

In reviewing progress against the five areas the present ABA Directors had chosen to focus on initially, it is pleasing to be able to report good activity in all areas since the last issue of the Journal viz:

  • more state based meetings/activities; meetings/activities have been held in ACT, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and WA (instigation of the annual essay prize for high school students)
  • completion of the development of an on-line Australian Biotechnology Directory working with the Department of Industry, Science & Resources Biotechnology Task Force and AusIndustry; in the first edition available shortly on the Department's web site ( http://www.isr.gov.au/biotaskforce/) and CD Rom, about 250 companies are listed; there is still the opportunity for other organizations not yet listed to subscribe for inclusion and everyone is urged to do so.
  • development of more leaflets after reviewing the state of the current ones; of the 12 existing leaflets, 9 have been reviewed and of these 3 have been substantially upgraded. We have also written to Senator Nick Minchin, Minister for Industry, Science & Resources, seeking funds to employ a science writer to help develop more leaflets.
  • review of the ABA Web Site; a detailed review has been done and as time permits the changes suggested are being implemented; we would be pleased to hear if any of the members would be interested in offering to help maintain the site and keep it current.
  • all Corporate members on email; this has been achieved and it has been useful to allow dissemination of information; we now plan to extend this to Ordinary members and will be asking for email addresses shortly when the notices for subscriptions are sent out.

The Directors continue to meet regularly by teleconference (Jan 13, March 4) in order to contain travel costs; however an opportunity to meet face to face on April 26 was taken just before the highly successful one day national meeting held by the ABA on 27 April in Melbourne.

About 120 people attended this national meeting "A Roadmap for Commercialisation of Australian Biotechnology" held at the Crown Towers Hotel in Melbourne on 27 April prior to the Licensing Executive Society's International Conference. I warmly thank Dr Elane Zelcer and her committee for organizing this stimulating event, which drew on a distinguished range of speakers, both nationally and internationally. Particularly interesting case studies were provided by Dr John Raff of Starpharma, Mr Ralph Nixon of Technico and Dr Edwina Cornish of Florigene.

In response to a request from Minister Minchin's office, the ABA was able to arrange at very short notice for a group of Melbourne-based Corporate members to meet the Chief of Staff from his office as well as the Science Adviser when they visited Melbourne. This is reported elsewhere in this issue.

Two ABA Directors (Ms Lyndal Thorburn and myself) attended the first Australian Consensus Conference "Gene Technology in the Food Chain" which was held in Old Parliament House in mid-March. As Dr Joe Hlubucek, General Manager of the Biotechnology Task Force said, "the outcome was open to many interpretations; but it was important for what it did not do viz no ban proposed on genetically modified crops and food but a focus on the precautionary approach requiring labelling of all genetically modified foods and an emphasis on safety and independence of regulation. It indicated that when the public have access to good information they will make a balanced decision". The ABA issued a media release after the Consensus Conference supporting in particular the recommendation of the Conference for more information and the need to promote greater public awareness about gene technology and its use in a range of products and services. Subsequently, Dr Neil Willetts and Dr Peter Rogers represented the ABA at the Academy of Science Conference held at the end of March on a related topic "Gene Technology & Food".

The ABA has been active in keeping abreast of Government initiatives in several areas which are highlighted below.

  • The ABA made a submission to the Ralph Review of Business Taxation, incorporating the report of the December Biotechnology Venture Capital Forum the ABA held with the Biotechnology Task Force.
  • The ABA joined with the Institution of Engineers, ANUTECH Pty Limited and the Cooperative Research Centres Association to write to the Treasurer about the need to ensure overturning of any recommendation that might be made by the National Competition Council to repeal section 51(3) of the Trade Practices Act with its potential impact on exclusive licensing. Earlier, the ABA had made a submission to this review of the Trade Practices Act; the outcomes of it are not yet known.
  • The ABA was invited to comment on the Health & Medical Research Strategic Review and Dr Elane Zelcer, Dr Neil Willets and I had an hour long telephone conference with key reviewers, Mr Peter Wills and Mr Peter Condy.
  • The ABA was represented by the President at a briefing meeting chaired by Mr Ralph Hillman, Ambassador for the Environment held at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the outcomes of negotiations on the development of the BioSafety Protocol held at Cartagena de Indias in Colombia; the meeting failed to agree on the text and the conference of parties was suspended but is due to be resumed before May 2000 with the aim of finalizing it before the next main Convention meeting.
  • The opportunity presented the ABA President to attend a briefing by Melinda Kimble, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on "Biodiversity; The Biosafety Protocol". This was held as part of the service provided by the USA World Net Dialogue and involved direct questioning of Ms Kimble in Washington by several Australian interlocuters; we could see Ms Kimble on the TV screen as she responded to the questions but she could not see the questioners.
  • The ABA was represented by the President at a briefing meeting at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on the revision of the international undertaking on plant genetic resources, prior to the attendance of the Department's representatives to put Australia's views at another round of discussions on this internationally.
  • Dr Elane Zelcer attended the first meeting of the Biotechnology Consultative Group set up to advise the Biotechnology Task Force; Elane has been appointed in her own right to this Group but is a Director of the ABA.

Recently, the ABA has been invited to participate in the development of the Australian Agrifood Alliance (AAA) and I have attended the inaugural and follow up meetings. The aim of the AAA is to help achieve public acceptance of gene technology as a fundamental tool for sustainable agriculture and world trade competitiveness; participating organisations include AVCARE, National Farmers Federation, Seed Industry Association, Grains Research & Development Corporation, Fertiliser Companies. The contribution of the ABA will be in-kind through the provision of information from the expertise of its membership.

We were pleased to meet Dr Val Giddings, Vice-President of BIO recently, when he visited Brisbane and Canberra at the instigation of the Queensland Government Biotechnology Task Group and supported by the Biotechnology Task Force of the Department of Industry, Science & Resources. Dr Peter Riddles has assisted Austrade in San Francisco in organising a number of Australian speakers to present at a seminar on Australian Biotechnology to be held at the forthcoming BIO Meeting in Seattle.

As you can see the ABA has been busy on a number of fronts!

Anne Campbell
President

ABA NEWS

ABA Meets Senator Minchin's Advisers

On Thursday 25th February, five Melbourne based corporate members of the ABA took up the opportunity at short notice to meet with Kieran Schneemann, Chief of Staff and Genevieve Bessell, Science Adviser for Senator Minchin, the Minister for Industry Science and Resources.

The corporate members were lead by: David Trive, Director of ABA from the University of Melbourne, and included Naomi Stevens for AgroEvo; Dean Moss and Marcia Ward for AMRAD, Ian Ray for Chiron, Lance Schlipaulius for Betatene and Peter Rodgers for Carlton United Breweries(also a Director of ABA). This assembly presented a good cross section of small and large players in the Australian Biotechnology industry. The group met in the foyer of the DISR building in Collins Street an hour before the meeting to introduce themselves and share issues of relevance to their businesses and worthy of discussion and support during the time with the Ministers Advisers.

The Senators Advisers had indicated an interest to make face to face contact with members of the Melbourne based ABA with the aim of obtaining first hand feelings for the issues of importance to the biotechnology industry in Australia. These would contribute to the activities and priorities of the recently formed Biotechnology Task Force lead by Joe Hlubucek and complement the efforts of the Biotechnology Consultative Group of 14 members, who are due to meet in early March. In her introductory remarks, Genevieve Bessell indicated the recognition by government that biotechnology would indeed be the next great revolution and it was important to consult with stakeholders in the industry on where to go from here. Informal forums would be encouraged by Senator Minchin to obtain direct feedback for industry concerns.

Kieran Schneemann explained the Minister's recognition of the synergies across Government portfolios and is keen to promote collaborative activities in order to avoid duplicaiton and counter productive outcomes in addressing biotechnology issues. The Ministers Advisers were impressed and encouraged by the ABAs enthusiasm and willingness to participate at short notice.

The key issues identified by the participants and related to the Minister's Advisers included:

  • GST implications for biotechnology investors and strategy planning - the sooner we can understand them and account for them the better.
  • Impact of regulatory responses for biotechnology products especially ingredients such as modified enzymes and biologicals. This requires clarification as soon as possible.
  • R&D 125% tax rebate has marginal value and must be returned to 150% to ensure investment interest is maintained.
  • Recognition that the biotechnology industry is composed of a diverse group of players from the high tech gene manipulation and medical therapies through to the basic management of simple organisms such as algae.
  • In many cases exports are a significant proportion of the business hence global issues for licensing, investment attraction and international commercialisation of biotechnology require our Government's support.
  • Investment incentives offered need to be flexible depending on size (ie tiered) and focus of the business (ie sectoral).
  • Support for investigations and training overseas and international office set up would greatly assist small Australian based biotechnology companies allowing cost savings and growth in infrastructure which ultimately adds more value to the Australian made product.
  • The current Australian business culture has a short-term focus on return on investment which will not attract it to high risk long term biotechnology activities.
  • Innovation is perceived in the Australian business culture as a peripheral outcome, and not as an investment in a sustainable future. This business culture denies the need to invest early and work hard at long-term success. We need to find business case studies to help lift perceptions, and to reinforce the linkages between R&D spending and both innovation and success.
  • We need to help the business culture establish itself in the science background of Australian biotechnology.
  • The regulatory structure for food products of modern biotechnology is desperately needed to be up and running. It has been too slow in the making and this does not assist the public understanding and support.
  • The government has an important role to play as a credible resource of communications on the benefits of our biotechnology industry and products and to support the regulatory systems in place which assure rigorous scientific assessment and safety.
  • A National Strategy for Biotechnology in Australia would provide the focus and energy required to achieve a coordinated and comprehensive engagement in the industry ensuring success and public support. The implications of a well constructed long term strategy would bring benefits to education, finance, employment, industry and administration. The Canadian model is a good example.
  • The Government should encourage and invest in the establishment of biotechnology incubators. Successful models include Queensland Innovation group and Innovation Place in Saskatoon, Canada.
  • The success of our biotechnology industry in Australia and our focus on building centres for excellence can be utilised in the Asian Pacific region through training programmes, business skills exchange and access to markets. This has important trade negotiation benefits. Many Asian Pacific countries have already adopted the GMAC guidelines as a basis for their biotechnology risk assessments.
  • We all need to espouse our successes, to promote the industry and build confidence. Biotechnology is creating opportunities for unique government/industry partnerships which are already returning benefits for Australia (For example royalties and research collaborations in cotton for the global market - AgrEvo and CSIRO).
  • Training of start-up companies could be assisted by Government partnering arrangements.
  • The ABA is keen to become proactive in assisting its members to achieve success in their diversity of activities and interests. It is currently trying to come to terms with striking a balance between its members interests and securing funding for an executive officer.

Corporate profiles

AgrEvo is a multinational crop protection and crop production company which invests $1M per day in R&D. The Australian headquarters are located in Glen Iris. AgrEvo is developing herbicide tolerant and hybrid canola varieties for the Australian and global markets and has other biotechnology crop interests in cotton, maize, soybeans, rice, vegetables and cereals.

AMRAD Corporation Limited is an Australian research based Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Company. AMRAD conducts research in the fields of virology, neurology, cytokine discovery and screening of natural products and genomics to discover and develop innovative medicine. AMRAD Biotech manufacture, distribute and sell a wide range of diagnostic and life science products and technology both domestically and internationally.

Betatene is involved in natural carotinoid production and operates a processing plant in Cheltenham which is supplied from the largest salt water algal operations located in Whyalla, SA and North of Geraldton, WA. Ninety-five percent of the processed product is exported to customers in Japan, Europe and USA. The company grew from CSIRO research activities in the late 70s and is now owned by the German Henkel group.

Chiron grew from a CSL initiative in 1988 and is now owned by an American parent based in SanFrancisco. The Melbourne office is located in the Monash Technology Park, Clayton. Chiron is the largest global supplier of solid phase synthesis of polypeptides. R&D efforts focus on small molecule synthesis and drug discovery for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in Asia and the USA.

CUB - Brewtech group is based in Carlton and utilises collaborative industrial grants to support activities in the brewing industry especially malting barley variety development and enhanced brewing ingredients such as biological enzymes.

Naomi Stevens AgrEvo

Next National Conference

The 15th Australasian Biotechnology Conference (or ABA 2000 as it will probably come to be called) will be organised on behalf of the ABA by the Queensland Branch. It will be held between July 2 and 6, 2000 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. Dr Greg Harper will be chairing the organising committee and Dr Ken Finney will be acting as conference treasurer.

The committee is working to have a broad range of issues important to Australian and international biotechnology covered within the program. It has decided to have daily themes focussed on the issues around application of biotechnology: i.e. the food industry; the biopharmaceutical industry; the environment and the social context of biotechnology; technological development and the industries for the 21st Century.

The committee is also developing a series of workshops and public sessions that will allow broader community involvement in the deliberations of the delegates. The main contact for now will be Dr Greg Harper of CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Gehrmann Laboratories, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072 Tel: 07 3214 2441; Fax: 07 3214 2480; Email: Gregory.Harper@tag.csiro.au

Victorian Branch News

On April 29, the Victorian Branch of the Biotechnology Association (VABA) held its most recent event "Eat My Genes, Dude!" at the CUB Brewhouse. The evening began with VABA members and a large contingent of students from University of Melbourne Department of Microbiology enjoying a few preliminary drinks.

Once everyone was seated, Peter Rogers gave a brief welcome speech, explaining the function of the VABA and referred to the central place that alcohol played at meetings of the successful ABA Queensland Branch. The references to alcohol (an extremely important biotechnological product I must say) continued throughout the evening.

Dr Marilyn Anderson a plant scientist at La Trobe University was the first speaker. Her speech highlighted current public concerns about the possible introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods into the Australian market. Public concerns about the safety of GM foods include use of antibiotic resistance markers and the Tumour Inducing (Ti) plasmid as well as the potential for pesticide resistant "superweeds". These concerns were then examined, common misconceptions emphasised, and an explanation of techniques used in the genetic modification of plants provided. Her talk revealed that media sensationalism and a lack of information and appreciation of science are largely responsible for the current community fears about GM foods.

The second speaker for the evening was the Regulatory Affairs Officer at AgrEvo, Naomi Stevens. Ms Stevens acquainted the audience with many of the regulatory bodies and procedures that AgrEvo's currently available and proposed GM crops had to pass through before being approved for use in food production. She also emphasised the importance of information being made available to the general public in a clear and consistent manner. The relevance of The Simpsons and South Park to Biotechnology is not immediately clear. However, Ms Stevens concluded her talk with a pertinent and amusing reference to both of these shows as indicators of public beliefs about GM foods.

The evening proved to be engaging and informative. There was much laughter and many references to drinking during the speeches, proving once and for all that humour and science does mix. The evening also served to remind us that, as people with a vested interest in biotechnology, we must be vigilant in educating the community about GM food and science in general.

Zoe Wood, Melbourne

Further Melbourne events planned for 1999 include :

A Young Speaker's Night where you will hear what sort of things the biotechnologists of the future are doing today, in research and industry. This event is planned for mid-July. If you are interested in presenting your work or would like further information, please send an abstract by email to Paul Taylor (Student Rep on VABA Committee) taylorpm@ariel.unimelb.edu.au There will hopefully be some prizes awarded for the most outstanding presentation.

A Biotechnology Industry Visit is being planned for August. Come along and have a look at a real life application of biotechnology, and make some contacts. A Careers Night, scheduled for early October where you can find out what you can do with your science degree apart from more research (there are actually other options!) and meet some of the industry representatives who employ graduates to work as biotechnologists.

Stay tuned for a Christmas Function sometime in December.

BOOK REVIEWS

Protein Stability and Folding - A Collection of Thermodynamic Data. 1998
by Pfeil, Wolfgang 250-400 words

This book represents a useful collection of thermodynamic descriptors of protein unfolding as extracted from the refereed literature. The units of cited data have been standardised allowing immediate comparison between the wide range of wild type and mutated proteins listed. Proteins are listed in alphabetical order according to the nomenclature of the original publishing author and an index is also provided. The introduction covers aspects of thermodynamics particularly related to protein stability and evaluates standard approaches for monitoring protein conformational stability. The alternative representation of the data in phase diagrams is also described.

The data is organised into three tables. Table 1 represents 330 out of the 600 pages of data and lists pH, temperature and molar values of Gibbs energy change. Tables 2 and 3 represent 234 and 36 out of 600 pages of data and give enthalpy and, molar and specific values of heat capacity changes, respectively. All tables include the general experimental approach, relevant remarks and reference details. In some cases, data for a wide range of site-specific mutants or chemically modified primary structures are given, with the range of available data indicative of the biological significance and consequent attention paid to particular proteins by scientists.

This book is designed as a reference for library collections as its price (US$250) is prohibitive for individuals. The intention of the book is to make the data and information embodied within accessible for biotechnology research. I recommend the book for the intrinsic usefulness of a dedicated compilation of this type of data with the expectation that subsequent volumes or editions will keep pace with the literature. Access to the information via the internet would also be useful.

L. Bennett, Melbourne

Engineering Genesis: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering in Non-Human Species
by Working Group of the Society, Religion and Technology Project, Church of Scotland;
Editors: Donald Bruce and Ann Bruce; Publishers: Earthscan Publications Ltd, London

1st Edition 1998 337 pages ISBN 1-85383 570 6 (paperback) Available from: earthinfo@earthscan.co.uk fax: +44 171 278 1142 Price ,12.99

This fine book is the product reached by consensus of a genetic engineering working group of the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland. The group included experts in animal welfare, in agriculture, in animal breeding, sociology, ethics, practical theology, genetist and senior scientists. This multidisciplinary group was set up by the Church of Scotland in 1993 to look at the ethical issues in the genetic engineering of non-human species.

The group decided not to follow any one theory of moral philosophy, but rather to take an interactive process of a diverse group of people, each bringing their own insights. They state that they have tried to write for a general, non-expert readership, but have provided enough technical content to allow an appreciation of the science.

The book commences with an explanation of genetic engineering and its uses (29 pages), it then moves into 11 case studies eg. proteins from plants, novel oils from rapeseed, genetically-modified tomatoes, pharmaceuticals in sheep milk, xeno-transplantation, Dolly cloning. Each such case study is brief - just a few pages - an introduction and then a consideration of each ethical issue involved. Each case study is written by an expert in the area.

However, the bulk of the book then follows with a further 9 chapters on ethics, animal welfare, animal ethics and human benefit, transgenic food, environmental risk, patenting life, developing countries and the social content. The final chapter is entitled "Final Reflections". It does not seek to draw conclusions, but more to summarise the questions raised in the earlier chapters.

The book also includes a useful set of appendices - glossary, explanations of technology, ethical assessment methods. Finally, it has a website to encourage continued dialogue. http://webzone1.co.uk/www/srtproject/srtpage3.htm

This book is quite solid reading, heavy-going in fact, not lightened by pictures or diagrams to any extent, but it is a very thoroughly prepared, comprehensive and even-handed tomb. Its strength is this sincere desire to see both sides and not to become emotive. It recognises that this is only a beginning, and that there is a need for active on-going dialogue in this area. It was a good choice for it to be used as a handbook at the recently held GeneCom 98 conference in Adelaide. I thank the organisers of that conference for providing me with a review copy of this excellent and well-balanced text in this field.

Martin Playne
Melbourne

Australian Venture Capital Guide 1999
Paperback 144 pages, A5 size, celloglazed cover, Price $45 inc postage, overseas airmail A$55, ISSN 1321 1404

The Australian Venture Capital Guide 1999 is a complete guide to 114 sources of private equity and related financing for growth companies and new product development.

Published by Pollitecon Publications, publisher of the Australian Venture Capital Journal, the Guide is the most comprehensive of its type in Australia. Now in its sixth year of publication, the 1999 edition is the largest yet with:

88 separate suppliers of professional venture and development capital; 3 Government seed capital schemes which support the development of new, commercial products; 12 business introduction services; 8 New Zealand and 1 Papua New Guinea based venture capital firms; 11 suppliers of equity capital for unlisted infrastructure projects

The 114 organisations in the Guide are specialists in supplying equity capital and other financing for seed, start-up, expansion, management buyout and buyin, or turnaround opportunities. Collectively, they have over $2.3 billion available to invest in venture capital, and another several billion dollars for infrastructure equity.

The 144 page Guide is available for $44.00, which includes postage. The overseas price is A$55.00 airmail. To order your copy, simply complete the coupon below and send to Pollitecon Publications, PO Box 324, Five Dock, NSW 2046. Further information on Tel: (02) 9713 7608.

Biotechnobase

A New Biotechnology Database from Elsevier Science

New York and Amsterdam, February 8, 1999 _ Elsevier Science, Secondary Publishing Division announces the launch of Biotechnobase, a unique biotechnology database comprising more than 700,000 bibliographic citations and author abstracts from 1980 to the present. It provides comprehensive, international coverage of scientific, technological and professional biotechnology literature published in more than 280 journals (cover-to-cover) - from fundamental research to industrial applications. More than 90% of records will include abstracts. The service is designed primarily for investigators, students, business developers and information specialists in industry, academia and government.

Biotechnobase will be available online via DIMDI beginning February 1999 (File:ET80). The file will be updated on a weekly basis. Mounting on other major online hosts will follow shortly thereafter. Further information: Email: embase-europe@elsevier.nl

AgraBiotech Newsletter

In March of this year, Agra Europe (London) Ltd. will be publishing the first issue of a twice-monthly newsletter covering developments in biotechnology affecting agriculture and the food industry. The newsletter will report on new products and patent applications, and on consumer attitudes with regard to releases and commercialisation. It will also monitor the performance of companies operating in this field.

While the main focus of the newsletter will be European news, including legislation and regulatory issues, we will also be reporting on developments around the world and in North America in particular. The publishers anticipate that their subscribers will include biotechnology, pharmaceutical and agricultural companies, trade and consumer associations, universities and government departments.

The publishers would be very grateful if you could ensure that they receive any press releases and other information which you might be publishing. They can then ensure that it will be reviewed in AgraBiotech. If you publish information by Email, the address is: biotech@agra-europe.com

Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences

A quarterly publication, published by the Capricorn Publications. This is the first Asian scientific journal, which is also available on the Internet (http://www.pjbs.org). It consists of Regional Editors from developed countries and a group of Technical Editors that are competent research scientists in their respective fields. This is the most regular journal published in Pakistan. More than three thousand visitors visit the journal's web site per month from all over the world. It shows the acceptability and recognition from the international viewer.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Hi,

I have been trying to educate myself on the benefits of not only eating well, but eating the right foods. This search has led me to the debate of genetically engineered foods over organic non-hybrid foods etc.

I was put onto your site by a friend in the field and upon reading all your `educational' leaflets, have discovered the complete lack of objectivity in your information regarding the negatives of this debate.

No mention of horrific side effects of using bovine growth hormone in many dairy cows (most of my relatives are farmers), the crap that is still left in milk as it stands in the shop, the links between aspartame and cancer (real and significant) etc and the worst kind of all never even glanced upon in the patent section is the totally mind blowing patent of the horrific `terminator' gene and the planned wipeout of all plant to seed to plant to seed crops, and even the `lazarus' genes of the large corps holding the power over the small farmers by forcing them to use specific and toxic proprietary chemicals sold only by these large corps.

Why do you not mention the horrors that have ensued because of genetic engineering and the money hungry bastards that are sprouting everywhere to take advantage of the utter mutilation of nature? I thought science was about being objective. Is there something you don't want people to know?

I also saw no mention of the possibility of the spread of `hybrid' genes from non-seed producing crops into the wild, turning related crops into sterile, one-generation plants. The dominance of hybrid seeds has created the real possibility of eventually wiping ourselves out from the slow but steady loss of reproducing plants in nature. If this does eventuate (and I am not saying it will) I hope the biotechnologists who favour and promote this die the slowest and most painful death on a barren earth.

Thank you for letting me have my say

Sharon Kardol
sharon@hotmix.com.au

Editor's Note: Although our 12 educational leaflets on biotechnology have been praised world-wide over the years, they are not always seen as impartial by everyone. Such letters as the one above do indicate that we have a long way to go in the provision of factual information to a public, often uneducated in science let alone molecular biology. I challenge our readers to reply to Sharon in a constructive way in our next issue. She is listening and trying to learn. What about a response?

MEETINGS

AG BioTech World Forum

9-11 June 1999
MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA
Contact: 225 Turnpike Road, Southborough, MA 01772-1749, USA Tel: 508 481 6400; Fax: 508 481 7911; Email: reg@ibcusa.com

Recombinant DNA Techniques

28 June - 2 July 1999
University of New South Wales
Contact: Truus Schairer, Education Development Group, The University of New South Wales, NSW 2052 Tel: (02) 9385 4945; Fax (02) 9385 5970; Email: T.Schairer@unsw.edu.au

2nd European Congress of Pharmacology

3-7 July 1999
Budapest, Hungary
Contact: Dr M.I.K. Fekete Fax: 36 1 2100813; Email: fekete@koki.hu

International Ginseng Conference & Exhibition '99

8-11 July 1999
Hong Kong, China
Contact: Katherina Tam Tel: 852 2559 9973; Fax: 852 2547 9528; Email: icc@asiaonline.net

9th European Congress on Biotechnology

11-15 July 1999
Brussels, Belgium
Contact: Marcel Hofman Tel: 32 2 510 2314; Fax: 32 2 510 2615; Email: ecb9.orcom@skynet.be

Enzymes in the Environment: Activity, Ecology and Applications

12-15 July 1999
Granada, Spain
Contact: Dr Richard P. Dick Tel: 1 541 737 5718; Fax: 1 541 737 5725; Email: Richard.Dick@orst.edu

12th International Symposium on Carotenoids

18-23 July 1999
Cairns, Queensland
Contact: Mark Remington Fax: 61 3 9822 5433; Email: markrem@ozemail.com.au

International Botanical Congress

1-7 August 1999
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Contact J. Kitrel Tel: 314 577 9473; Fax: 314 577 9589; Email: bkitrel@lehmann.mobot.org

6th International Congress on Amino Acids

3-7 August 1999
Bonn, Germany
Contact Dr O. Labudova Fax: 49 228 387 4457; Email: hrink@mailer.meb.uni-bonn.de

Global Soy Forum 99

4-7 August 1999
Sheraton Chicago, Illinois, USA
Contact: National Soybean Research Laboratory, 1101 West Peabody, Room 165, Urbana, IL 61801, USA Tel: 217 244 7384; Fax: 217 244 1707; Email: gsf99@uiuc.edu

XI International Congress of Virology

9-13 August 1999
Sydney, Australia
Contact Amber Whittington Tel: 61 2 9248 0823; Fax: 61 2 9262 3135

IXth International Congress of Mycology andIXth International Congress of Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology

16-20 August 1999
Sydney, Australia
Further info: www.urhosts.com.au/iums Tel: 61 2 9262 2277

7th International Fungal Biology Conference

22-25 August 1999
Groningen, The Netherlands
Contact: Hans Sietsma Tel: 31 50 363 2326; Fax: 31 50 363 2273; Email: j.h.sietsma@biol.rug.nl

International Program on Rice Biotechnology

3-17 September 1999
Phuket, Thailand
Contact: Gary H. Toenniessen Fax: 1 212 852 8442; Email: gtoenniessen@rockfound.org

9th International Conference on Diseases of Fish and Shellfish

19-24 September 1999
Rhodes, Greece
Contact: Dr Maura Hiney Tel: 353 91 524411 ext. 3124; Fax: 353 91 750514; Email: maura.hiney@ucg.ie

Membrane Technology in Food and Bioprocessing

1-2 October 1999
University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury Richmond, NSW
Contact: Jenny Carney Tel: 02 4570 1455; Fax: 02 4578 4100; Email: J.Carney@UWS.edu.au

10th World Congress of Food Science & Technology and World Food Expo

3-8 October 1999
Sydney, Australia
Further information: Tel: 61 2 9241 1478; www.aifst.asn.au

3rd Pacific Rim Biotechnology of Bacillus thuringiensis

4-8 October 1999
Wuhan, P.R. China
Contact: Dr Sun Ming, Huazhong Agricultural University, Dept Microbial Science & Technology, Wuhan, 430070, Hubei, P.R. China Fax: 86 27 8739 3882; Email: YZ41@public.wh.hb.cn

Commercialising Health Innovations Forum (CHIF)

5-6 October, 1999
Melbourne Convention Centre
Contact: Secretariat Tel: 03 9521 8881; Fax: 03 9521 8889; email: conforg@ozemail.com.au Website: 222.ahi.com.au/chif

BioTechnica '99

5-7 October 1999
Hannover, Germany
Contact: Oliver Wedeking Tel: 0511 89 32128; Fax: 0511 89 31218

Enzyme Engineering XV

10-15 October 1999
Kona Surf Resort, Kona, Hawaii
Contact: United Engineering Foundation, Three Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016-5902 Tel: 1 212 591 7836; Fax: 1 212 591 7441; Email: engfind@aol.com

BioPartnering Europe

18-19 October 1999
Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, England
Contact: Tel: 831 464 7100; Fax: 831 464 4240; Email: biopartnering@techvision.com

Membrane Technology in Environmental Management

1-4 November 1999
Tokyo, Japan
Contact: Prof Kazuo Yamamoto Fax: 813 5802 2987; Email: yamamoto@esc.u-tokyo.ac.jp

6th Hong Kong International Cancer Congress

14-17 November 1999
Hong Kong, China
Contact: Ms Venus Chan Tel: 852 2818 0232; Fax: 852 2818 1186; Email: mededcon@hku.hk

EuropaBio '99

Third Annual European Biotechnology Business Congress
16-19 November 1999
International Congress Centre, Munich, Germany
Contact: Congress Secretariat Tel: +32 2 735 0313; Fax: +32 2 735 4960; Email: mail@europa-bio.be

CIA99 - ChemAsia99, InstrumentAsia99 and AnaLabAsia Exhibition and Conference

30 November - 3 December 1999
Singapore Suntec Centre
Contact: Fax: 65 339 9507; Email: info@sesmontnet.com

Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium

11-17 January 2000
Bangkok, Thailand
Contact: Pedro Bueno Tel: 66 2 561 1727; Fax: 66 2 561 1728; Email: pedrob@fisheries.go.th

Functional Foods 2000

29 Feb 2000 - 2 March 2000
Netherlands Congress Centre, Den Haag, Netherlands
Contact: Fax: +44 1372 386228 Attention: Fiona Angus

Xth World Water Congress

11-17 March 1000
Melbourne, Australia
Contact: Lisa McNaught Tel: 71 3 9682 0244; Fax: 61 3 9682 0288; Email: worldwide@icms.com.au

The Second International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds

22-25 May 2000
Monterey, California, USA
Contact: Tel: 614 424 5461; Fax: 614 488 5747; Email: conferencegroup@compuserve.com

Achema 2000, 26th Exhibition Congress, International Meetong on Chemical Engineering

22-27 May 2000
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Contact: German Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Attn. Margret Lamy, PO Box A980, Sydney South, NSW 1235 Fax: 02 9265 2211

Agbiotech: The Science of a New Century

5-8 June 2000
Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada
Contact: ABIC 2000 Conference Coordinator C/- The Signature Group Inc, 489 Second Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7K 2C1

3rd Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC 2000)

5-9 June 2000
Toronto, Canada
Contact: Sharon Murray Tel: 1 877 925 2242; Fax: 1 877 333 2242; Email: siggroup@sk.sympatico.ca

15th Australasian Biotechnology Conference

2-6 July, 2000
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Contact: Greg Harper, CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Gehrmann Laboratories, University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072 Tel: 07 3214 2441; Fax: 07 3214 2480; email: Gregory.Harper@tag.csiro.au

6th International Symposium on The Biosafety of Genetically Modifoed Organisms

8-13 July 2000
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Contact: http://www.usask.ca/agriculture/biosafety/ for more information

Biotechnology 2000: 11th International Biotechnological Symposium

3-8 September 2000
Berlin, Germany
Contact: Renate Strauss Tel: 49 69 7564 249; Fax: 49 69 7564 176; Email: rosenbaum@dechema.de

IMBC 2000 International Marine Biotechnology Conference

29 September - 5 October 2000
Sheraton Townsville Hotel & Casino & Townsville Entertainment Centre, Queensland
Contact: International Marine Biotechnology Conference 2000, C/0 Australian Institute of Marine Science, PO Box 216, Aitkenvale, QLD 4814 Tel: 07 4781 6219; Fax: 07 4781 5822; Email: imbc_2000@aims.gov.au

COURSES

Advanced Course on Downstream Processing

31 May - 4 June, 1999
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Contact: Dr Ir. L.A. van der Meer-Lerk Tel: +31 15 278 1922/5758; Fax: +31 15 278 2355; email: bodl@stm.tudelft.nl

Advanced Course on Environmental Biotechnology

16-25 June, 1999
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Contact: Dr Ir. L.A. van der Meer-Lerk Tel: +31 15 278 1922/5758; Fax: +31 15 278 2355; email: bodl@stm.tudelft.nl

Ethics and Genetics: Advanced European Bioethics Course

18-20 November 1999
Nijmegen, The Netherlands
All lectures and plenary sessions will be held in English

Contact: B. Gordijn, Catholic University, Nijmegen, 232 Dept Ethics, Philosophy and History of Medicine, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, Netherlands Tel: 0031 24 3615320; Fax: 0031 24 3540254; Email: b.gordijn@efg.kun.nl

PRODUCT NEWS

METTLER TOLEDO

Made-to-Measure LiquiSystem Solution

With an increased number of applications that require the measurement of liquids, the air-cushion pipette has become the most employed instrument in the modern laboratory. Use involves repetitive handling, so when choosing a pipette, its ergonomics and ease of use are as important as extreme precision and accuracy.

Unfortunately, most brands of pipette only fulfill some of these requirements. Mettler Toledo has developed a new generation of air-cushion pipettes. The result is LiquiSystems, a complete range of single and multi-channel pipettes, tips, boxes, accessories and calibrating aids.

The VoluMate single channel pipette, with variable volume, has been specially designed for use in the research and quality assurance laboratory. Seven different sizes cover the entire volume range from 0.1mL to 5 ml. Compared with other models, the shape has been created with maximum attention to ergonomic efficiency. Thanks to its moulded grip and finger guards, the pipette sits easily in the hand and comfort is ensured even with repetitive pipetting. Operating the instrument could not be simpler: and a second button for ejecting the tip. The pipettes are designed for one handed operation, including he volume adjustments. The volume adjustment has also been designed so that surgical gloves cannot get trapped and torn.

The MultiMate multi-channel pipette comes in three different sizes, and covers the volume range from 0.5mL to 250ml. All sizes are available in both 8- and 12- channel versions and are, of course, optimally designed for use with microplates.

Retractable Housings will not Interrupt your Ongoing Process

These days, pH measurement techniques in the chemical process industry call for sensors and housings which can afford maximum safety and reliability combined with simple operation, short downtimes and low maintenance effort. Mettler Toledo's newly developed InTrac7 776/777 retractable housings meet these important criteria, allowing the user both peace of mind and greatest ease of use. The great advantage of InTrac7 776/777 Retractable Housings is that they allow sensor maintenance or sensor replacement to be carried out safely without interrupting the ongoing process.

The patented design of the immersion tube guarantees complete separation of the process media from the outside environment in any operating position. An additional safety device prevents unintentional removal of the sensor when the housing is in the measuring position; and the sensor check feature of the housing rules out the possibility of insertion of the immersion tube when no sensor is present.

For sales and service on all laboratory and analytical products, customers should call Mettler Toledo Laboratory Group from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call on 1300 659 765.

CROWN SCIENTIFIC

Please note that the Iwaki Glass Company in Japan, owner of the Crown Scientific Pty Ltd organisation, has recently acquired the Toshiba Glass Company and effectie the 1st January, 1999, Iwaki has changed their name and they now will be known as Asahi Techno Glass Corp. The newly-formed company will have sales of just under A$800 million and this will provide further platforms for the growth for the Crown Scientific organisation in the Pacific region.

Laboratory Freeze-Drying Range

Crown Scientific is pleased to announce the release of the very comprehensive range of laboratory freeze-drying products manufactured by Labconco Corporation in USA.

The comprehensive catalogue on the Labconco Freeze-Drying range, together with a very informative book produced by Labconco entitled `a Guide to Freeze-Drying for the Laboratory' is available from each of Crown's offices. The Labconco System consists of a variety of different systems from 4.5 litre to 18 litre capacity, together with a range of accessories that make the job on freeze-drying so much easier in all laboratory environments.

Further information: Crown Scientific Pty Ltd, 144 Moorebank Avenue, Moorebank, NSW 2170 (Tel: (02) 9602 7677; Fax: (02) 9602 1143; Email: crownsci@crownsci.com.au

ABA OFFICE BEARERS

PRESIDENT:
Dr Anne Campbell (CRC Association)
Tel: (02) 6279 8835; Fax: (02) 6279 8836

VICE PRESIDENTS:
Dr Peter Riddles (Institute for Molecular /bioSciences)
Tel: (07) 3346 2507; Fax: (07) 3346 2509

Mr Gary Cox (Wray & Associates)
Tel: (08) 9325 6122; Fax: (08) 9325 2883

DIRECTORS:
Dr Anne Campbell (CRC Association)
Tel: (02) 6279 8835; Fax: (02) 6279 8836

Mr Gary Cox (Wray & Associates)
Tel: (08) 9325 6122; Fax: (08) 9325 2883

Dr Shirley Lanning
Tel: (03) 9690 0219; Fax: (03) 9690 0219

Dr Peter Riddles (Institute for Molecular BioSciences)
Tel: (07) 3346 2507; Fax: (07) 3346 2509Dr

Peter Rogers (CUB - Brewtech)
Tel: (03) 9342 5449; Fax: (03) 9347 9240

Ms Lyndal Thorburn (Advance Consulting & Evaluation)
Tel: (02) 6297 2438; Fax: (02) 6297 2203

Dr David Tribe (University of Melbourne)
Tel: (03) 9344 5703; Fax: (03) 9347 1540

Dr Neil Willetts
Tel: (02) 9416 5537; Fax: (02) 9416 5537

Dr Elane Zelcer (Thrombogenix Pty Ltd)
Tel: (03) 9827 6427; Fax: (03) 9824 0054

SECRETARY:
Mrs Barbara Arnold
Tel: (03) 9596 8879; Fax: (03) 9596 8874

TREASURER :
Mr Steven Clarke
Tel: (03) 9596 8879; Fax: (03) 9596 8874

ABA COMMITTEES :

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY:
Dr Robert Klupacs (AMRAD Operations)
Tel: (03) 9208 4068; Fax: (03) 9208 4089

GENETIC RELEASE:
Dr Sue Meek (WA Dept of Commerce & Trade)
Tel: (08) 9327 5637; Fax: (08) 9327 5542

PUBLICATIONS:
Dr Martin Playne (Food Science Australia)
Tel: (03) 9252 6000; Fax: (03) 9252 6555

W.A. BRANCH:
Dr Michael Borowitzka (Murdoch Uni)
Tel: (08) 9360 2333; Fax: (08) 9310 3505

QLD BRANCH:
Dr Peter Riddles
Tel: (07) 3346 2507; Fax: (07) 3346 2509

NSW BRANCH:
Dr Neil Willetts
Tel & Fax: (02) 9416 5537

VIC BRANCH:
Dr David Tribe
Tel: (03) 9344 5703; Fax: (03) 9347 1540

ACT BRANCH:
Ms Lyndal Thorburn
Tel: (02) 6297 2438; Fax: (02) 6297 2203

Copyright 1999 Australian Biotechnology Association Ltd.

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