27 March 2002
TIME TO GO ORGANIC, BLAIR TELLS FARMERS, AND OTHER TALES
1. TIME TO GO ORGANIC, BLAIR TELLS FARMERS
2. Do gene patents wrap research in red tape?
3. Bloated claims/missing data/suppressed dissent/chameleon ethics and
an $11m conflict of interest - welcome to the world of pharma
1. Time to go organic, Blair tells farmers
[though we may lock you up if you try to defend your investment...]
By Bob Roberts, The Daily Mirror, 27th March 2002
MORE farmers should return to their roots and go organic, Tony Blair told a summit at No10 yesterday.
An action plan will be published in July showing them how to cash in on the lucrative market.
He made the plea as he gave farmers leaders an adapt-or-die warning saying big subsidies from Europe would end.
The Premier told them: "The Common Agricultural Policy has to change.
"It will cease to exist in its present form - when is the question."
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett called for "farming industries which contribute to thriving rural economies and protect and enhance our environment." But National Farmers' Union President Ben Gill said they still needed help to make profits. He went on: "We can't have reform that just drops farming communities in it."
Other proposals included giving [pounds]5 million to help market British food and curbing illegal imports of meat and animal products.
There was also a call for model farms to teach the best techniques.
Shadow agriculture spokesman Peter Ainsworth commented: "Mrs Beckett said they would be talking about what they can do in the next 50 years.
"Given the average age of farmers, most can look forward to action from the Government when they reach 110."
2. Do gene patents wrap research in red tape? [shortened]
The San Francisco Chronicle, MARCH 25, 2002,
Taking a position that seems to question biotech's financial underpinnings, Affymetrix Corp, last week told a government panel that gene patents are hindering medical progress and that the United States should quit handing them out. "There should be no patenting of gene sequences, period. They were invented by nature," said Barbara Caulfield, general counsel for the Santa Clara company. "This a position Affymetrix feels strongly about."
Caulfield, a noted trial attorney and former federal judge, made her
declaration before the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.
The two a gencies are studying whether patents may be stifling competition,
rather than encouraging innovation, in knowledge-based
industries such as biotech. In a separate but related action, Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Mich., introduced legislation last week to exempt diagnostic tests from the full protection of gene patents -- a move that would threaten startups like Alameda's Celera Diagnostics, which hopes to become profitable based on the price-setting power of patents. Although activist and patient groups have staked out similar positions in the past, these two developments represent the sharpest challenge to gene patents since former President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent biotech stocks plunging two years ago, by suggesting that raw human gene sequence data "should be made freely available."
3. Bloated claims/missing data/suppressed dissent/chameleon ethics and an $11m conflict of interest - welcome to the world of pharma
Sensitised by a series of scandals arising out of corporate influence and actions, most notably those of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, medical journals are increasingly at the cutting edge when it comes to questioning and investigating questionable practice and conflicts of interest.
The subheadings to a current BMJ piece on 'Alteplase for stroke: money and optimistic claims buttress the "brain attack" campaign' capture the concerns:
Statistics and spin
Verification of data thwarted
potential conflicts of interest
Delayed publication, missing data
Full article and references:
Alteplase for stroke: money and optimistic claims buttress the "brain
Jeanne Lenzer, medical investigative journalist.
Oak Ridge Journalism, Ellenville, NY 12428, USA
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