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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 16, 2000. All rights

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Cyanamid on the Block?

For the past five years, ever since American Home

Products

Corporation (AHP) bought American Cyanamid, the agricultural products

division has been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It dropped last

week. Spurned by Warner-Lambert in a buyout bid, American Home Product

Corporations announced it had hired Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to

sell the agricultural products division — located at the corner

of Route 1 and Quakerbridge and Clarksville roads — by the end

of this year.

From its location adjacent to three big shopping malls, you would

think that Cyanamid’s fields of cows and crops are destined to become

one big parking lot, yet the 700 employees at this location hope the

property can be preserved for research work.

At the time it was purchased by AHP, Cyanamid had four lines of

business:

pharmaceutical, over-the-counter drugs, animal health care, and

agricultural

products. The crop protection business was the odd man out — the

only business unit that did not have a sister company in the AHP

organization.

Wyeth Ayerst, which has a pharmaceutical R&D laboratory on Ridge Road,

is now an AHP company, and AHP has an veterinarian division, Fort

Dodge Animal Health Care, based in Kansas City.

"We announced in the middle of last year that we were seeking

alternatives, and we are moving forward to divest it now," says

Lowell B. Weiner, AHP’s spokesperson. He points out that, of the 700

people working at the Route 1 location, 100 of them technically do

research on cows and pigs for Fort Dodge and will stay with AHP. He

does not speculate whether the researchers and their animals will

have to move to Kansas when the facility is sold.

Founded in 1907 to provide the first synthetic fertilizer —

calcium

cyanamide — the agricultural products group is now the

eighth-largest

crop protection chemical company in the world and the third largest

in the United States. It was the first to introduce herbicide tolerant

cropping systems based on imidazolinone chemistry and is a leader

in this field. A Cyanamid scientist, Marinus Los, pioneered in

imidazolinone

chemistry, and now Cyanamid offers a half dozen proprietary products

from this family.

Branded as the Clearfield Production System, this method combines

agronomics, seeds, and herbicides to meet weed control solutions for

farmers. "We have the broadest range of non-transgenic

herbicide-tolerant

crops," says spokesperson Suzanne Thompson. Unlike competitors

such as Monsanto and DuPont, Cyanamid owns no seed companies. Instead,

it sells germ plasm containing the herbicide tolerant traits to

companies

producing seed. Among the Clearfield products are corn and canola,

and research continues on wheat and rice.

"Our focus has been on coming up with the right weed control

solutions

for the farmer, and we got there quicker with nontransgenic

means,"

says Thompson, but she notes that Cyanamid has not abandoned research

using gene therapy. "We are supportive of the transgenic

technology

long term." Last year Cyanamid signed a $60 million multi-year

deal with Hyseq Inc., a California-based biopharmaceutical company,

to use high throughput genomics and bioinformatics for finding new

products.

Morgan Stanley might not have to go out of state to find a buyer.

Among the agricultural chemical companies that could feasibly be

interested

in acquiring American Cyanamid are the FMC Corporation, at Route 1

North and Plainsboro Road, and Rhodia, the French manufacturer with

labs and offices on Prospect Plains Road and Blackhorse Lane.

American Cyanamid Agricultural Products Research

Division

(AHP), Quakerbridge Road, Box 400, Princeton 08543-0400. Mark W.

Atwood, president, global agricultural products research division.

609-716-2000; fax, 609-275-5234. Home page:

http://www.cyanamid.com.


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