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Ag Majors Form Development Pacts

Crop Protection: BASF and Monsanto, Sumitomo and Nufarm link for new seeds and herbicides

by Melody Voith and Jean-François Tremblay
July 12, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 28

Credit: BASF
BASF and Monsanto are adding wheat to their seed development partnership.
Credit: BASF
BASF and Monsanto are adding wheat to their seed development partnership.

Two crop protection partnerships are being formed, one to create genetically modified wheat seeds and the other to develop herbicides for glyphosate-resistant weeds.

BASF and Monsanto will add genetically engineered wheat to their three-year-old partnership to develop yield and stress-tolerant seeds. The two firms are adding the crop to an agreement that began with corn, soy, cotton, and canola. They will add up to $1 billion in research funds to a program already funded at as much as $1.5 billion.

"Our yield and stress collaboration with BASF already has brought forth so many promising leads, the first of which we'll see on farm in coming years with our first-generation drought-tolerant corn," says Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer.

The companies maintain independent trait discovery programs; specific candidate genes are then advanced for joint development. Successful products will be commercialized by Monsanto, which receives 60% of the profits. The first yield-enhanced wheat seed will not reach the market until after 2020, but the firms anticipate introducing the drought-tolerant corn in 2012.

Separately, Sumitomo Chemical and the Australian generic agrochemical producer Nufarm will cooperate to develop new pesticide formulations that will address the growing problem of weed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate in genetically-modified crops.

Focusing on North America and Australia, the two companies will initially try combining Sumitomo's flumioxazin herbicides with Nufarm's line of phenoxy-type herbicides. They aim eventually to develop entirely new herbicides, primarily from Sumitomo's research pipeline. Sumitomo bought a 20% stake in Nufarm this spring.


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