BASF and Monsanto announced last week they are expanding an existing biotechnology research collaboration, including to work on biotech wheat.
The two companies – working within what they describe as the “world’s largest plant biotechnology collaboration” – are already focusing on corn, soybeans, cotton and canola.
The original project was started in 2007 with a dedicated budget of up to $1.5 billion. The companies said in a press release that “strong leads and commercial prospects in the collaboration’s early work” are leading them to invest an additional $1 billion.
For wheat, the two plan to focus on developing biotech products for the North American and Australian markets. They said the first enhanced yielding wheat product is expected to reach the market after 2020, followed by future generations of higher-yielding wheat varieties.
As part of the agreement, BASF and Monsanto both maintain independent trait discovery programs from which they nominate candidate genes for accelerated, jointly-funded development. Products emerging from joint development are commercialized by Monsanto, with Monsanto receiving 60 percent of net profits and BASF receiving 40 percent of net profits. The first product likely to come out of the collaboration will be drought-tolerant corn, which should be available around 2012, pending regulatory approvals.
There is currently no commercialized biotech wheat anywhere in the world, and NAWG believes biotechnology’s introduction into the wheat crop is necessary for the wheat industry to increase productivity, attract acres back to the crop and feed a growing global population in a sustainable way.
NAWG has worked with U.S. Wheat Associates, affiliated state associations and other wheat-chain organizations over the past four years to demonstrate the potential value of biotechnology in the wheat crop and welcomes announcements of new investments into wheat research.
For more about this work, please visit www.wheatworld.org/biotech.