Top Stories

August 30, 2022


Moderna accuses BioNTech/Pfizer of covid vaccine plagiarism

Pharmaceutical company Moderna said it will sue peers Pfizer and BioNTech for copying the technology behind its Covid-19 vaccine. The US biotech said it would seek damages from its rivals for allegedly infringing several patents protecting Moderna’s messenger ‘RNA’ technology platform that were critical to developing its Covid jab, including one related to chemical modifications that enable mRNA to enter the human body without provoking undesirable immune responses. Moderna said it would not strive to block the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine from the market or seek an injunction against future sales because of the life-saving role it plays in the pandemic. However, it said it expected rivals to respect its intellectual property and would look to enforce these rights through lawsuits in the US and Germany. (Financial Times)*


BHP shareholders seek consistent climate policy, submit resolutions

Shareholders at mining company BHP have sought inclusion of climate sensitivity analysis in financial statements from 2023, and requested consistency on climate policy. The demands form a part of resolutions submitted to BHP by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) on behalf of shareholders, asking the miner to advocate for policy that is consistent with the Paris Agreement. Shareholders also requested that from fiscal 2023, notes to BHP’s financial statements show a climate sensitivity analysis, including a scenario aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. BHP targets net-zero emissions by 2050, but has faced pushback from shareholders on concerns that its long-term plans lack detail. On its part, the miner has also stopped short of setting a target in view of uncertainty over how technology will develop. (Reuters)


Indonesia investigates claims fruit pickers indebted in UK

A presidential taskforce in Indonesia is investigating the recruitment of fruit pickers who say they took on debts of up to £5,000 to secure jobs in Kent in the UK. Findings reveal that Indonesian labourers harvesting berries on a farm that supplies British supermarkets Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco had reported facing thousands of pounds in charges to unlicensed brokers in Bali to get work for a single season in the UK. Migrant rights experts said the potential to be trapped in debt bondage put workers at risk of essentially forced labour. Many Indonesian workers brought to the UK worked at soft fruit supplier Clock House farm. Clock House said it remained “deeply concerned” about the allegations. The Indonesia Migrant Workers Protection Bureau has dispatched four officers to investigate brokers. (The Guardian)


Anglo-Australian venture plans to plant 100 million trees by 2024

A joint venture between British tech firm CAL International and Australian start-up AirSeed Technologies will utilise drones to tackle deforestation and plant 100 million trees globally by 2024. The AirSeed drone uses artificial and data intelligence to identify and locate designated target areas with GPS coordinates and fires carbon seed pods onto the ground. According to the companies, when using a two-person team an AirSeed drone can plant up to 40,000 pods a day. The partners claim the aerial platform can help enable reforestation projects in remote areas that are difficult to access due to challenging terrain or bushfire damage. Additionally, the two companies say the project is 80% cheaper than current planting methods and 25 times faster than manual planting. (Business Green)*


Florida bans ESG investing across $228 billion state pension funds

Fund managers for Florida’s $228 billion pension funds will no longer be allowed to incorporate ESG considerations into investment processes, following a resolution passed by Governor Ron DeSantis. The new resolution states that investment decisions must be based only on “pecuniary factors”, or those expected to have a material impact on investment risk and return, and specifies that these factors may not include “the furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests.” The resolution also bans the consideration of these “non-pecuniary factors” in proxy voting activities. The Florida resolution specifically states that “the Biden Administration has made clear its intention to encourage investment using ESG factors,” as a consideration supporting its anti-ESG rules. The move forms part of an anti-ESG push by politicians in several Republican states. (ESG Today)

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