ST. LOUIS, MO, USA and REHOVOT, ISRAEL (Sept. 25, 2007) –Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) and Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN) today announced a collaboration to improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn, soybeans, canola and cotton. Under the agreement, Monsanto gains exclusive rights to a number of genes discovered by Evogene that help plants maintain yield with lower applications of nitrogen. Monsanto will work to evaluate the use of those genes in its research and development pipeline. The potential candidates from Evogene are complementary to the nitrogen utilization genes already in testing in Monsanto's pipeline and could provide the opportunity to further a series of upgrades for this key target area. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Nitrogen fertilizer represents one of the largest input costs in agriculture; it accounts for approximately one-fifth of the operating costs for a corn producer. In the US alone, farmers spend more than $3 billion annually on nitrogen fertilizer application of corn fields, with plants typically absorbing less than half of the nitrogen fertilizer applied.
“Improving nitrogen use efficiency in crops has immense value not only for farmers but also for our environment,” said Fred Below, professor of crop physiology at the University of Illinois. “These improvements provide the greatest opportunity for increased profitability, while also offering a new way to reduce the environmental impact of corn production.”
"Monsanto is continually innovating new technologies to help farmers get more out of every seed and to do more with less, including maximizing the nitrogen efficiency of crops,” said Steve Padgette, Monsanto’s vice president of biotechnology. “We look forward to working with Evogene to continue delivering valuable products to farmers’ fields that reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment.”
"Monsanto is acknowledged worldwide for its excellent capabilities in delivering innovative technology to farmers,” said Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. “Therefore we are obviously delighted Monsanto has chosen our computational gene discovery technology for the development of its next generation of improved crop traits.”