Monsanto Sees Gains In Corn, Soy, Wheat Projects

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Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, said on Jan. 6 that a lineup of new biotech seed products has the company well positioned for future growth.

St. Louis-based Monsanto said it has 19 projects advancing through its research and development pipeline, including nine added in the last two years. Notable advancements are being made in higher-yielding soybeans; yield and stress-tolerant wheat; and a corn that more efficiently uses nitrogen, the company said.

“We’re making a steady march of advancements,” said Monsanto chief technology officer Robert Fraley, who characterized rivals as playing “catch-up.”

Ten biotech projects in the advanced phases of development should create near-to mid-term returns, Monsanto said. Corn remains the focus for research and development, with 43 per cent of the company R&D spending focused on that key food, feed and energy crop.

Monsanto said it projects that its nitrogen-utilization corn “family” of products could have a gross sales value of $250 million to $500 million in 2020.

The company is also pushing forward with a drought-tolerant corn and said it expects to have U.S. regulatory approval by 2012. Monsanto’s work in wheat remains in early phases, but is progressing well, officials said. The company, which shelved an earlier biotech wheat program in 2004, is working with BASF to develop wheat that yields well under stress and at the same time is tolerant of herbicide treatments.

Currently, no biotech wheat is grown on a commercial scale anywhere in the world due to opposition from consumers and food-industry players.

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