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Monsanto Makes Three New Crop Biotech Deals

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ST. LOUIS--Monsanto unveiled deals with three separate companies this month aimed at facilitating the distribution of its genetically engineered products to farmers. The life sciences firm bought DeKalb Genetics, maker of seed for corn, soybeans, sorghum, alfalfa, and sunflowers for $2.3 billion and spent another $1.9 billion to acquire cotton seed breeder Delta & Pine Land.

Monsanto also announced plans with Minneapolis agricultural products processor and distributor Cargill to form a worldwide crop-biotechnology joint venture targeted at the grain processing and animal feed markets. Each partner will invest about $100 million annually in the joint venture, which creates a system that links biotechnology research and development from seeds through processing to the customer. The deal will draw from Monsanto's genomics, biotechnology, and seeds capabilities and from Cargill's global agricultural input, processing, and marketing infrastructure. It will develop and market new products with traits aimed at improving the processing efficiencies and feed products for animals raised for human consumption.

Last week Monsanto also announced that it entered an agreement with Incyte Pharmaceuticals to gain access to Incyte's gene expression microarray technology. The three-year deal will let Monsanto analyze up to 500 million gene expression data points using Incyte's GEM microarrays. Incyte will provide Monsanto data from custom and prefabricated DNA microarrays, software to manage and analyze the data, and consulting and software support.

Incyte CEO Roy Whitfield said the agreement will accelerate Incyte's progress toward the goal to "provide every Incyte gene on a microarray and thus make whole-genome sequencing a reality." He continued, "The large-scale production volume contemplated in this agreement will allow our partners to expand the application of DNA microarrays beyond discovery to pharmacology, toxicology, clinical trial analysis, and agricultural programs."

Monsanto already accesses Incyte's platform of genomic databases, genomic data management software, and biological reagents.

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