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Industry Watch.

Food & Beverage: The US Dept. of Agriculture is considering new meat testing requirements, including new requirements for listeria testing and new testing in processing plants and slaughter houses for E.coli 0157. The Food Safety and Inspection Service estimates it will conduct 5,400 random samples tests this year. Sixteen recalls of E.coli tainted meat have been made so far this year, the highest number since the program began six years ago due to better sampling procedures. The meat industry contends that many tests are inconclusive. The industry is also advocating testing earlier in the process, before the animals are sent to slaughter houses. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 60 people in the US die each year and 73,000 people get sick from E.coli.

Source: Financial Times

Bioagriculture: In an effort to more thoroughly evaluate certain genetically modified crops, the EPA has announced a new review plan for of genetically modified corn and cotton. The plan includes comprehensive risk assessments, public comment on risk assessments, and observations and comments from the EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel and the National Academy of Sciences. Based on this information, the EPA will revise its risk assessments and registration decisions for the crops in early 2001. Final registration decision will be issue in the summer.

Source: Environmental Laboratory Washington Report

Biotechnology: After years of working closely with large pharmaceutical companies, often for small royalty payments, the recent infusion of cash into the biotech sector has changed the situation. Biotech companies raised more than $22 billion in the first half of this year, and despite the stock markets downturn in March, have continued to attract investors and launch successful IPOs. The increased funds have given smaller biotech companies more independence from pharmaceutical companies and thus a better bargaining position when negotiating licensing deals, drug discovery services, sales of biotech tools and drug sales and marketing. In some cases, such as Millennium Pharmaceuticals, the biotech companies can actually compete with drug companies for technology. Pharmaceutical companies, which currently spend approximately 20% to 30% of their budgets on outside R&D, find it hard to go it alone and often must accept the new terms. But as the market capitalization of public biotech companies continues to grow from its current $400 billion figure, small biotech companies may find they still need to partner with drug companies for validation, clinical trial and sale expertise .

Source: New York Times

Oil & Gas: Analysts predict that high oil prices could continue into the winter. High prices are not only caused by OPEC's tightening of oil production , but increased demand due to the strong global economy. Even if OPEC raises output, the effect on prices could be delayed due to processing and distribution capacity. Tankers are at 97% capacity for the first time in twenty-seven years. US refineries are working at capacity, and US and developing countries' stocks of oil are at their lowest point in years. Holding stock is discouraged because the spot price of oil is higher than the futures price.

Source: Financial Times
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 15, 2000
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