News Real

MAPLE-LEAF MOO: Unlike the U.S., Health Canada listens to its animal-health experts. The Jan. 14 Toronto Globe & Mail said regulators decided not to approve Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone after a veterinary panel reported increases of roughly 25 percent in udder infections, 18 percent in infertility and 50 percent in lameness. Monsanto must be fuming: One of the Canadian scientists is accusing the company out loud of offering a bribe of research money if they approved the drug. Monsanto denies any bribing; they say the money was to oversee studies. Meanwhile, if you want milk that didn't come from a pumped-up cow, the organic white stuff's now available even at Schnucks and Dierbergs. Granted, Monsanto tried to change the definition of organic ... but they haven't won yet. (JB)

FOLLOWING THE MONEY: Time magazine couldn't have pumped biotech any higher if it had helium in its ink. The Jan. 11 special issue on "The Future of Medicine"concludes that the future is biotech. The 50-page section nods a polite-stranger acknowledgment of ethical questions, then rushes on to greet "the century of the gene," promising exciting breakthroughs in prescription drugs, prenatal testing, sex selection, DNA repair, human cloning, tissue factories and crime detection. Along the way, sheep-cloner Ian Wilmut tells us "why Dolly was misunderstood" and DNA discoverer James D. Watson explains "why we can't stop now." The single advertiser for the entire issue? Pfizer -- the pharmaceutical company. (JB)

HE AIN'T NO SANTA CLAUS, BUT HE IS COMING TO TOWN: If you've picked up a St. Louis Pope-Dispatch anytime this month, it's been hard to miss that fact. A quick electronic-archive search of the P-D showed a whopping 87 mentions of Pope John Paul II between Jan. 1-17 -- that's five each day. Judging from the headlines alone (does anyone read every one of those stories?), some were real news stories, at least for the faithful who want to get a glimpse of the pontiff: "Two Parade Routes Are Added for Pope's Visit"; "Plaza Will Expand Access to Pope"; "Volunteers Are Sought to Help with Papal Visit"; and "Public Won't Be Able to See Pope at Lambert." Then there are the "how are St. Louisans coping with it?" stories: "Businesses Worry About Disruptions from Papal Visit"; "Businesses Cover All Bases for Pope's Visit"; "Kirkwood Schools Draft Plan for Papal Visit"; and "Residents Along Lindell Prepare for Pope's Visit." Then, of course, are the "aren't we all excited?" stories: "Students Get First Look, Practice Hymn for Papal Visit"; "Pink Sisters Pray That the Sun Shines on the Pope"; "Holy Smoke Beer Will Honor Pope's Visit"; and "A St. Louis Sausage-Making Family Will Make the Pope Feel Right at Home." Last, of course, are the headlines that make you go "Naaaw! Really?": "St. Louis TV Stations Will Provide Much Live Coverage"; "Economic Impact of Papal Visit May Be Extensive"; and our favorite, "Pope Is Coming to Spread the Gospel." Can't wait for that commemorative special edition. (SA)

CURIOUS GEORGE: Los Angeles DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, a.k.a. "Rodney on the ROQ," has been one of the music industry's stealth arbiters for more than 20 years. In the early '70s, he hyped glam rock, then moved on to punk; he was the tastemaker du jour during the early-'80s LA punk explosion; and he has continued to straddle the line between fringe music and the LA music industry on one of the country's most influential rock radio stations, KROQ, while guiding his favorite artists with an invisible but powerful hand. Rodney's is a rock & roll story of mythic proportions, and St. Louis filmmaker George Hickenlooper has focused his attentions on the DJ for his next project. The documentary, called The Mayor of Sunset Strip -- though we'd suggest the more poetic Bingenheimer by Hickenlooper -- is set to premiere, according to Rolling Stone magazine, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. Hickenlooper's got a full plate before the end of the millennium; his feature Big Brass Ring, based on an Orson Welles screenplay and shot in St. Louis this past fall, is in postproduction. (RR)

Contributors: Safir Ahmed, Jeannette Batz, Randall Roberts

 
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