Monsanto and Novozymes partner to advance microbial products

12 December 2013 00:05 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Monsanto and Novozymes are joining together to advance the use of microbial products for use in agriculture with an end goal of boosting yield and making farming more sustainable by reducing inputs like fertilizers, said officials with the agribusiness titan on Wednesday.

The collaboration between Monsanto and Denmark-based Novozymes is being called the "BioAg Alliance" and has as its mission providing a new platform of solutions for growers globally.  The partnership will merge Novoyzmes’ work in microbial discovery and development with Monsanto’s advanced biology efforts and commercial capabilities.

Under the terms of the partnership Monsanto will pay Novozymes $300m (€219m) for ongoing microbial capabilities and to supply the alliance with products. Each company will maintain independent research programs. The alliance will be co-managed, as will the funding for research efforts, while marketing of Novozymes’ current portfolio will be transferred to Monsanto.

According to Monsanto officials, the agreement is subject to approval of antitrust regulators but the transaction is expected to be finalised in early 2014.

Officials with Monsanto said the result will be a comprehensive collaboration that will assist farmers in producing more with less in a manner that benefits the agricultural industry, consumers and the environment. 

“Monsanto, Novozymes and the farmer customers we serve share a need to meet growing demand in a sustainable way, and investing in the research and development of agricultural biological technologies like microbials is another step in that direction and a natural extension of our core business,” said Robb Fraley, Monsanto chief technology officer.

“Just as Monsanto has done with leadership investments in our precision agriculture platform, we see this collaboration as being the same type of catalyst for taking our biologicals work from a technology to a full-fledged platform that represents the next layer of opportunity for growers to drive yield and productivity while helping the preservation of finite natural resources in our precious planet.”

Microbial-based solutions are derived from naturally occurring microorganisms like bacteria and fungi and have been demonstrated to protect crops from pest and diseases. Additionally these solutions have shown that they can enhance plant productivity and fertility and researchers believe that bringing about a faster development cycle will prove that yields can increase while inputs like water, pesticides and fertilizers can be significantly reduced.

With over 700 current products utilised in 130 countries, Novozymes is the leader in this field, and officials said the alliance with Monsanto offers both companies the opportunity to greatly impact the future of agricultural endeavours around the world.

“As the world population grows at a tremendous pace over the next decade, we need to significantly increase the output from our land without increasing the pressure on the environment,” said Peder Holk Nielsen, Novozymes CEO.

“The combined capabilities of Novozymes and Monsanto create an innovation powerhouse with a unique opportunity and approach to unleash the transformational opportunity in naturally derived microbial solutions in agriculture.”

A good example of Novozymes' work currently in use is a product called Jumpstart, a seed coating product that contains a fungus that grows on the plant’s roots and helps it take in more phosphate from the soil and fertilizer applications. Sold as a phosphate inoculant, the fungus enhances growth and reduces the amount of fertilizer necessary to achieve similar yields.  

 

By Mark Milam