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GEN News Highlights : Jan 31, 2013

Monsanto Buys Agradis Assets and Teams Up with SGI

Monsanto purchased select assets of Agradis, a firm focused on developing sustainable agricultural solutions. Monsanto’s purchase includes the Agradis name and its collection of microbes that can improve crop productivity. Monsanto has also acquired the company’s R&D site in La Jolla, California. Agradis was formed in 2011 by Synthetic Genomics (SGI), a privately held company led by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and Mexican firm Plenus, S.A. de C.V.

“Agradis’ collection of plant-associated microbes will support Monsanto’s efforts to provide farmers with sustainable biological products to improve crop health and productivity,” says Steve Padgette, Monsanto R&D investment strategy lead.

The assets of Agradis not purchased by Monsanto include castor and sweet sorghum breeding and genetic optimization technologies, as well as a novel product used to prevent fungal growth on fruits and vegetables. These assets will continue to be advanced by SGI and Plenus in a new company, AgraCast.

Monsanto also established an agricultural research agreement with SGI. The multiyear research collaboration will focus on the analysis of microbe-plant communities and screening for beneficial microorganisms that could be used to develop additional biological products to improve agricultural productivity. In addition, Monsanto made an equity investment in SGI.

“SGI and Plenus formed Agradis with the belief that our extensive expertise in microbial genomics could accelerate advances in agriculture,” says Dr. Venter. “We look forward to working with Monsanto to continue to generate innovation in agribusiness.”