BASF and Monsanto expand biotech cooperation to wheat

07 July 2010 14:38  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--BASF and Monsanto are expanding their biotechnology collaboration by adding a fifth crop, wheat, and increasing their investments by more than $1bn (€790m), the companies said on Wednesday.

The original joint venture agreement from 2007, which included corn, soy, cotton and canola, had a joint budget of $1.5bn.

The expansion was in response to strong commercial prospects from the collaboration's early work, the companies said in a joint statement.

The new wheat cooperation would initially focus on developing biotech products for the North American and Australian markets, they added.

Demand for wheat - the world's second largest commodity crop after corn - was expected to grow as millions of people in developing countries became more affluent, they said.

“The expansion of our partnership reflects the fit between the two companies,” said Peter Eckes, president of BASF Plant Science.

“The yield increases that we have achieved together in the field so far give us confidence that we can do more in our collaboration crops, which now include wheat,” he added.

The terms of the original 2007 agreement would continue, with each company maintaining independent trait discovery programmes, they said.

Projects would be jointly funded, and products which came from the joint development would be commercialised by Monsanto. Net profits from the commercialised products would be shared, with Monsanto receiving 60% and BASF receiving 40%.

The companies also said they expected to introduce the world's first genetically modified drought-tolerant corn by around 2012.

In a related development, BASF earlier this year received EU authorisation for commercial cultivation of its Amflora genetically modified potato.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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