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Monsanto Acquires Crop Biotech Firm Grassroots Biotechnology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Monsanto has acquired agricultural biotechnology firm GrassRoots Biotechnology for an undisclosed amount.

The acquisition was made earlier this month, and in an e-mail to GenomeWeb Daily News, a Monsanto spokesperson said, "GrassRoots focuses on gene expression and other agricultural technologies that will complement Monsanto's biotechnology research and development work."

All research employees will be offered positions at Monsanto. The spokesperson declined to disclose further terms of the deal.

GrassRoots was spun out of Duke University in 2007 to commercialize technologies developed by Philip Benfey, who, with Doug Eisner, co-founded the firm. Among the products and services it offers are gene regulation, root trait optimization, trait gene discovery, and agricultural chemical analysis, according to its website.

The Durham, NC-based firm first entered into a technology alliance and licensing deal with Monsanto in early 2009 focused on discovering gene promoters and trait genes for agricultural crops, and in 2011, the two companies extended their agreement two years through January 2014.

At the time, Monsanto planned to use expression elements sourced from GrassRoots "to optimize an array of biotechnology traits in a broad range of crops, including corn, soy, cotton, and canola," the companies said.