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Monsanto Partners with Synthetic Genomics

February 2, 2013
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Source: UT Sandiego

Monsanto Corp. has acquired part of a La Jolla agricultural biotech in a deal that gives the St. Louis food giant a presence in San Diego for the first time.

Monsanto purchased crop-boosting microbial technology from Agradis, a spinoff of Synthetic Genomics, the companies said Wednesday. Monsanto also made an equity investment in Synthetic Genomics and signed a research agreement with the company. Terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition gives Monsanto access to some of the newest and most sophisticated technologies for improving crop yields and preventing loss from disease. And while genetic technology is fundamental, it’s mostly being used to find naturally occurring beneficial microbes.

Synthetic Genomics was founded in 2005 by gene pioneer J. Craig Venter to solve energy and environmental challenges. As part of the acquisition, seven Agradis employees researching helpful microbes were hired by Monsanto, said Joe Mahler, Synthetic Genomics’ chief financial officer.

“These are natural microbes to enhance crop productivity and crop protection,” Mahler said. “It’s all part of a sustainable program to increase production and increase yield.”

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