Syngenta and the international wheat research organization CIMMYT announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a public-private partnership focusing on wheat research and development encompassing native and biotech traits, hybrid wheat and the use of seeds and crop protection products to increase yields.
The five-year partnership will combine Syngenta’s financial, research and product development resources with genetic resources and knowledge of practical applications held by CIMMYT, formally known as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
The organizations did not disclose financial terms of the agreement or when the work could result in new varieties for U.S. producers. Near-term work is expected to focus on joint development of growing systems that optimize environmentally sustainable yields, while longer-term results could produce new technologies, like hybrids and biotech and non-biotech traits aiming to tackle abiotic stress and agronomic diseases.
In a press release making the announcement, Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program Hans-Joachim Braun repeated concerns that many in the industry have about growing wheat demand regularly outpacing supply growth. He said world wheat production is increasing only 0.9 percent each year while demand is growing at a rate of 1.5 percent or more annually. Wheat is the most traded and commercially cultivated crop in the world and, according to the United Nations, is responsible for 20 percent of food calories consumed in the world.
The agreement announced this week is one of several efforts Syngenta has announced within the last couple of years related to wheat.
In October 2008, Syngenta announced it had acquired Resource Seeds, Inc., which has a strong wheat presence, as part of its acquisition of Goldsmith Seeds, Inc. In August 2009, the Syngenta Foundation launched a Ug99 stem rust resistance research partnership with Syngenta and CIMMYT to facilitate the development of durable rust resistance.
This latest announcement also adds to a steady stream of new commitments to wheat research by private companies.
In 2009, Monsanto announced it acquired WestBred and would begin wheat breeding conventionally and eventually, using biotechnology. Bayer CropScience also announced it would expand its seeds and traits business to include wheat and, to that end, formalized a long-term partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national research organization. Later, Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. and Vilmorin said they will partner together to develop and commercialize nitrogen use efficient wheat.