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Plant-Genomics Firm Ceres to Help Monsanto Fatten AgBio Pipeline

NEW YORK, April 3 - Monsanto has chosen privately held plant-genomics firm Ceres to help bolster its agbio pipeline, the companies said today.

Terms of the deal call for Monsanto to acquire rights to a number of Ceres' technologies in certain crops in exchange for cash payments of $137 million over several years. Ceres, based in Los Angeles, will also receive a minority equity investment from Monsanto, and stands to pocket other payments if it meets certain milestones.
 
The companies also said they plan co-develop technologies that can be used by farmers in developing countries.

A Ceres spokesperson said that his company will bring to the table its full-length cDNA portfolio "to a number of different plant species" as well as its platform for developing phenotypes that are "essentially prototypes for commercial products that can be readily put into commercial crops."

Though neither company would disclose what crops are being targeted, Monsanto is known to produce seeds for wheat, corn, soybeans, and grain sorghum.

"By marrying the ... genomics capabilities of Ceres with the product-development capabilities of Monsanto, we will be in a position to deliver additional value to farmers worldwide," Hendrik Verfaillie, CEO of Monsanto, said in a statement.