ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

5 December 2001


1. Corporatewatch's AVENTIS subvertisement
3. AVENTIS with Pants on Fire [excerpts]


1. from a Corporatewatch subvertisement on the back cover of December's Ecologist (you need to see this!)

We are spending thousands of pounds on adverts and PR to revamp our tattered image.

So that public concern doesn't stand in the way of our dreams.

Our Challenge is the Manipulation of Life

On 2nd October 2001, Bayer acquired the much reviled Aventis Cropscience from life sciences company, Aventis.

Now Aventis, turning its attention solely to pharmaceuticals, hopes to shed its image as a company responsible for the mass contamination of food with un-approved GM Starlink corn across the United States and Asia.

Starlink was solely approved as an animal feed as it was shown to cause allergic reactions in humans. Aventis is also trying to escape being branded public enemy number one in the UK for providing the seeds for the scientifically discredited Farm Scale Trials and attempting to get the first commercial consent for GM crops in the UK.

By relaunching itself as a caring, sharing pharmaceuticals company, it hopes we won't notice that it was one of the companies that attempted to prevent the South African Government from buying cheap versions of its patented drugs or that, as Hoescht Merial Roussel, it was involved in human drug trials without the patients' consent in Buenos Aires in 2000.

It also hopes we won't notice that only last month (22/10/01) Roussel Uclaf, owned by Aventis, was fined $33 million for fraud by the US public health authorities.

Goodbye Aventis Cropscience, can't say we're gonna miss you, and watch out, Bayer...

For more info see the excellent 'Norfolk Genetic Information Network' website:
Also see briefings by Genewatch UK:
and Corporate Watch:



05 Dec 2001
FoE Press Release

Immediate Release: Wednesday 5 December


 The Government has finally told biotech giant Aventis to take action to stop GM weeds growing without consent in a Lincolnshire field. The GM oilseed rape weeds are now flowering and may contaminate non-GM oil seed rape plants and wild relatives in the area. The Government was first alerted to the incident five days ago by FOE, and has spent the last 5 days dithering over its response.

Friends of the Earth notified the Government last Friday (30 November) that GM 'volunteers' [1] are growing at a site used earlier in the year in the Government's GM Farm Scale Evaluations at Witham-on-the-Hill, near Grantham [2]. Biotech company Aventis is legally responsible for ensuring that this doesn't happen. FOE wrote to the Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett, urging her to order the immediate destruction of the weeds and to prosecute Aventis for breaching their consent to release GMOs.

Pete Riley, GM Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: 'These GM weeds pose a threat to the environment and must be destroyed. It is astonishing that the Government has taken so long to take any action. It's little wonder that the public has such little confidence in the
Government's ability to safegaurd the environment from GM pollution.
'These GM plants must be destroyed and the company prosecuted. They should also stop the GM industry messing about with our countryside and call a moratorium on the growing of GM crops.'

[1]     Grid reference TF 043 173
[2]     The weeds are re-growth from GM oil seed rape that was grown earlier in the year.


3. AVENTIS with Pants on Fire [excerpts]

The Australian GM Śpolice‚ had to check out all the AVENTIS GM experimental canola sites after a whole series of problems including a refusal by AVENTIS to comply even with a 15-meter buffer zone!  On one occasion, banned AVENTIS GM plants even turned up dumped in a public tip!

In Brazil the regulators had to resort to burning the company’s transgenic rice because of their failure to take compulsory biosecurity measure - something for which the company was also named and shamed in the UK.

Meanwhile, AVENTIS‚ tests of Chardon LL (a GM maize) failed to comply with legal requirements in the UK, making the commercial release of Chardon LL (or any GMO seed) in the UK in the immediate future increasingly improbable.

However, with the corporate largesse pouring into the research institutes, AVENTIS has no shortage of associates among the regulators, the crop trial scientists, and on the public funding body for the bio-sciences.

Is this why being reckless, arrogant, incompetent, or deceitful seem of little consequence to this corporate giant?

After all, foul-ups count for little when your PR department takes in even the heart of government.

When in July 1999 a journalist from the Daily Express posed some tricky questions about proposed crop trials to the man from AVENTIS, Des D’Souza, he was staggered to have his call quickly returned by the Cabinet Office.  The tricky questions were happily fielded for AVENTIS by the spin unit at No. 10!

But then this is, after all, a Government caught out in illegality on at least 3 occasions over GM crops in ways that suited the Gene Giants. And standing at the front of that queue is AVENTIS.

AVENTIS: in your face, down your throat and up your nose!

Pants on Fire Chief, Jean de Bris, comments, "AVENTIS certainly deserve these prestigious pants for the way they are playing fast and loose with the global environment and the truth.  It seems they will say or do almost anything to try and spin their unwanted products down our throats while the stench of their smouldering undergarments gets right up the public nose!"

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