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Monsanto deferring development of genetically engineered wheat


St Louis, MO – May 10, 2004 – Agricultural products developer Monsanto says it is discontinuing its breeding and field level research of genetically engineered Roundup Ready wheat, until such time that other wheat biotechnology traits are introduced. Instead, it is focussing on development of new and improved traits in corn, cotton, and oilseeds.

“Business opportunities with Roundup Ready spring wheat are less attractive relative to Monsanto’s other commercial priorities,” says Carl Casale, executive vice president of Monsanto. “Acreage planted in the spring wheat market in the United States and Canada has declined nearly 25% since 1997, and even more in the higher cost weed control target market for this product. This technology adds value for only a segment of spring wheat growers, resulting in a lack of widespread wheat industry alignment, unlike the alignment we see in other crops where biotechnology is broadly applied. These factors underscore the difficulty of bringing new technologies to the wheat market at this time.

“We will continue to monitor the wheat industry’s desire for crop improvements, via breeding and biotechnology, to determine if and when it might be practical to move forward with a biotech wheat product,” he adds. “This decision allows us to defer commercial development of Roundup Ready wheat, in order to align with the potential commercialization of other biotechnology traits in wheat, estimated to be four to eight years in the future.”

The company says that shifting resources away from Roundup Ready wheat enables it to increase its research emphasis on stress tolerance and several improved health profile vegetable oil traits.