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Monsanto Buys Some Assets of Agradis from Synthetic Genomics, Plenus

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Monsanto today announced it has acquired some of the assets of genomics-based plant breeding firm Agradis, a little more than one year after the company was formed by J. Craig Venter's Synthetic Genomics and Mexican investment and management firm Plenus.

Included in the assets purchased by Monsanto are the Agradis name, its collection of microbes for improving crop productivity, and Agradis' R&D site in La Jolla, Calif.

However, Agradis' castor and sweet sorghum breeding and genetic optimization technologies, and a new product for preventing fungal growth on fruits and vegetables were not part of the deal.

Those assets will be owned by a new company called AgraCast, started by Synthetic Genomics and Plenus.

As part of today's deal, Monsanto has also reached a multi-year agricultural research agreement with Synthetic Genomics focused on analyzing microbe-plant communities and screening for beneficial microorganisms for the development of biological products to improve agricultural productivity. Monsanto has also made an equity investment in Synthetic Genomics.

Further terms of Monsanto's purchase of Agradis' assets and its deal with Synthetic Genomics were not disclosed.

“We look forward to bringing together the genomics strength of Monsanto, Agradis, and [Synthetic Genomics] to identify new agricultural solutions," Steve Padgette, Monsanto R&D lead said in a statement. "We share a common vision that sustainable agricultural products can help meet growing demand, and Monsanto views [Synthetic Genomics] as an excellent partner in helping bring innovation to growers."

Synthetic Genomics and Plenus founded Agradis in October 2011 in order to develop and commercialize products leveraging new technologies in genomics and plant breeding. In a statement today, Venter said Agradis was founded "with the belief that our extensive expertise in microbial genomics could accelerate advances in agriculture. We are pleased that Monsanto realizes the potential of the Agradis science and technology as evidenced by their acquisition of some key assets of the company. We look forward to working with Monsanto to continue to generate innovation in agribusiness.”