Monsanto to Team with Low-Chem Firm

Monsanto and AgraQuest, Davis is to develop seed treatments for crops/veggies.

Published on: Sep 28, 2010
Monsanto Company, St. Louis and AgraQuest, Inc., Davis a low-chemical firm that integrates bio-pesticides and conventional chemistry, have entered into a collaboration to evaluate the potential use of AgraQuest's pipeline of biopesticide leads to develop seed treatments for Monsanto's core crops and vegetables. For background see California Farmer, April, 2010 page 14.

The three-year deal is aimed at developing seed treatment products to control nematodes, disease and insects, and enhance plant growth and yield, using AgraQuest's collection of microbes. This technology could help Monsanto researchers develop additional modes of action for insect, nematode, and disease control.

"We are excited to partner with a proven leader in agriculture like Monsanto," said AgraQuest's CEO, Marcus Meadows-Smith. "We believe our research in the field of biopesticide alternatives for pest and stress management will complement Monsanto's work in helping farmers protect the yield potential of their farms by offering them better pest-control and plant health options."

AgraQuest CEO Marcus-Meadow-Smith leads Davis based bio-pesticide firm than has grown globally by more than 10%.
AgraQuest CEO Marcus-Meadow-Smith leads Davis based bio-pesticide firm than has grown globally by more than 10%.

Seed treatments protect seeds from pests such as nematodes, diseases and insects, and can help plants manage stress conditions, thus helping to maximize yield potential. Any commercial product developed from this collaboration will complement Monsanto's Acceleron seed treatment product portfolio. Monsanto currently offers Acceleron seed treatment products for corn and soybeans and a seed treatment for cotton are expected in 2011.

Used in conjunction with Monsanto traits in the company's elite germplasm, such seed treatment technologies could mean greater pest and stress management choices that are more effective and durable, which could help farmers increase on-farm yields.

"Working with other innovative companies in the industry is a key part of Monsanto's approach to research and development in the field of agriculture," says Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto. "AgraQuest has demonstrated success in developing and applying environmentally sound on-farm pest control options. This collaboration will further boost Monsanto's commitment to greater agricultural sustainability and could help us meet our stated goal of helping farmers' double crop yields by 2030 while conserving natural resources."

Monsanto will have exclusive rights to the technology for seed treatments in its core crops and vegetables. AgraQuest will retain all rights to the technology for foliar -- to be sprayed over the top of plants -- and soil application uses, and for use as seed treatments in all other crops. Under the agreement AgraQuest will receive an upfront payment and research funding, as well as performance-based payments and royalties. Additional details about the agreement were not disclosed.

Monsanto also will have access to AgraQuest's library of Bt proteins for potential use as insecticides in biotech crops.

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