Speculation about a merger between pharmaceutical giants Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham has been recently resumed. A leaked report has suggested that Sir Richard Sykes may step down earlier than expected from his position as chairman of Glaxo Wellcome to take an academic position at Imperial College, London. He was due to retire in 2002. Previous merger talks between the two companies broke down in 1998. Renewed hopes for the merger had arisen in December when SmithKline Beecham's chief executive, Jan Leschly announced he too was retiring early, in April of this year.
Meanwhile, in response to 'customer concern', the spearheads of the genetically modified (GM) crop trials in the UK have banned GM food from their own staff canteen. Granada Food Services have removed the modified products from the menu in Monsanto's canteen at it's High Wycombe base. The ban applies to all food outlets owned and operated by Granada. The move has been welcomed by campaigners against the use of GM ingredients in food, and farm-scale crop trials. Friends of the Earth has claimed that even Monsanto's own caterers had 'no confidence' in the company's products. Monsanto has denied that the decision was an embarrassment for the company and described the Granada decision to reduce customer choice and to make decisions on behalf of customers as 'ironic'. He said that Monsanto in-house canteens were run on different policies and that they use notices stating 'some products may contain GMOs'(genetically modified organism) as their staff are happy to eat foods sprayed with fewer chemicals'.