Calgene Inc. announced Wednesday that it has initiated thefirst international field trials of its genetically engineered oil-crop canola.

The trials are being conducted at six sites in Canada (authorizedby Agriculture Canada) and one site in Scotland (planted undera permit issued jointly by the United Kingdom's Department ofEnvironment and the Health and Safety Executive).

Calgene has engineered the canola plants to produce a highcontent of lauric acid (a key raw material for the soap,detergent and other industries) or of stearic acid (useful for avariety of food applications, including in margarine andconfectionery markets).

Calgene (NASDAQ:CGNE) of Davis, Calif., has received eightpermits to grow its modified canola, or rapeseed, in the U.S.since the spring of 1991, and is currently conducting six fieldtrials in the southern U.S. and five in the north, where fieldswere "just planted in the last few weeks," according to Eric Rey,vice president of operations for Calgene's oils division.

This is not the first growing season for Calgene's engineeredcanola. "This is the third generation of testing for the high-laurate containing plants, and the fourth generation for thehigh-stearate plants," Rey told BioWorld.

Most of those trials, he added, have involved from one to twoacres, but over time the "quantity of the material has increaseddramatically." And each round increases the probability thatthe plants will exhibit the "right combination" of characteristics,Rey said.

Calgene's stock was up 88 cents a share on Wednesday, to$13.13.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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