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<nettime> Monsanto quits Bangalore and India
KRRS on Tue, 13 Jun 2000 20:47:54 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Monsanto quits Bangalore and India


"The New Indian Expresss"                                  7th June, 2000

Monsanto shuts down R&D unit at IISc. Has winding up begun?
===========================================================

Bangalore, June 6: In yet another secret operation, the US based
multinational seed company, Monsanto, has shut down its R&D unit in
Bioinformatics at the Indian Institute of Science(IISc).

Close on the heels of the unit's closure on June 2, Monsanto is also said to
have sacked a substantial number of people at its other unit-IT
Programming.While the IISc unit's closure has left 10 scientists jobless,
the sack-operation is said to have sparked off a chain reaction.

The Monsanto R&D Centre with 70 scientists came up at the IISc in 1998
following a tieup amidst much controversy. While the centre's IT Programming
unit functions at Malleswaram, the other three units-Crop Protection, Rice
Transformation and Gekep(Genome Knowledge Enhancement Programme)-are located
at the IISc campus.

The Bioinformatics group was involved in research in the area of application
of information technology in genomics and gene sequencing.

If scientists are to be believed, the company's action last week has already
met with sharp reaction from its workforce. A sizeable number of engineers
at its IT programming unit have resigned and this includes the group's
Operations Head. 

"The company is desperately looking for IT professionals to work in its
programming unit," a scientist said.

Monsanto has been in the Indian market with brand names like Round
Up,Machetty,Leader etc., for its herbicides, and with genetically modified
seeds of cotton, wheat, corn and paddy.

The company, however, made futile bids to introduce the terminator gene
technology in India, but gave up the idea following stiff opposition from
the farm community and the Indian Government.

It was in the thick of a storm ever since it acquired the US -based Delta
Paine that had developed the terminator gene technology in the late '90s.
The technology when used in crop production, will render the second
generation seed sterile. This will invariably lead to a farmer's dependence
on the company for seeds, and the company's consequent monopoly in seed market.

Scientists at the IISc claim, Monsanto, which has been making huge profits,
is in the process of pulling out all its research activities from India. Its
R&D headquarters at St Louis,USA will now be enough to take care of the
Indian market.

"Alternatively, Monsanto might prefer to keep its research unit at the IISc
with a deflated strength just to earn goodwill. We left our jobs abroad when
Monsanto offered us opportunities to do research in Bangalore.

So did a number of scientists working in the areas of life sciences from
different departments of the IISc.In just two years, we have been thrown
out," a section of researchers told this paper.

Monsanto, however, has justified the closure of Bioinformatics unit on the
grounds that it had lost its relevance."Our R&D headquarters at St.Louis
having a re-look on the core areas of research.

According to our latest plans, we are consolidating our activities on just
four areas: crop protection, crop transformation, annotation and programming.

Bioinformatics has been dropped," a Delhi-based Monsanto spokesperson told
this paper over phone.

About the scientistsrendered jobless, she said."They have been with usfor
only two years, and therfore, thier relocation is is not a problem. Our
Human Resources Department has, in fact, gone out of the way in giving them
a generous package, nd is even helping them out infinding placements".

While the people thrown out insisted that the package they got was not at
all generous, the scenario at the centre was amicable.

According to her, the company is restructuring its operations in India after
its global merger with Pharmacia and upjohn.

The closure too is just a part of that restructing operation.     
############################################
KRRS
Karnataka Rajya Ryota Sangha
Karnataka State Farmer's Association
Prof.Nanjundaswamy
President
2111,7th-A Cross,3rd Main,
Vijayanagar 2nd Stage
Bangalore-560 040-India
Phone:+91-80-3300965
Fax:+91-80-3302171
E-mail:swamy.krrs {AT} vsnl.com;krrs_123 {AT} yahoo.com
############################################

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