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Monsanto invests in biotech wheat

Monsanto has announced acquisition of WestBred, LLC, and its plans to invest in wheat. The investment includes long-term plans for biotechnology for wheat, according to a company release, July 14.

"Wheat is one of the world's most vital crops--yet it has suffered from a lack of investment in technology. As a result, the productivity of wheat acres continues to fall behind other major row crops like corn, soybeans and cotton," the statement said.

Monsanto will acquire WestBred, LLC, company and "sees the investment as an opportunity to bolster the sustainability of wheat by helping farmers improve yields and reduce input resources. We believe the combination of our technologies--like drought tolerance, herbicide and pest resistance, as well as improved-yield traits--and WestBred's breeding expertise in wheat can meaningfully address some of the productivity challenges facing this crop."

The announcement was met with praise by the wheat industry, including a statement from the U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers. "The U.S. wheat industry welcomes the announcement today by Monsanto that it will restart its investment in research on development of biotechnology traits in wheat. The research challenges facing wheat are well known, as is the importance of this crop to world food supplies. This announcement comes at a time when basic research into agronomic improvements to wheat is critically needed."

While biotech wheat is still 8 to 10 years away, according to Monsanto, the short-term plans are to enhance productivity, sustainability and quality of wheat, as well as profitability for U.S. wheat farmers.

The investment by Monsanto comes with additional industry investment in wheat, said U.S. Wheat Associates, including other private technology providers, as well as publicly funded institutions such as the Kansas Innovation Center for Advanced Plant Design and CSIRO in Australia.

For more information visit the following sites: http://www.uswheat.org/biotechnology or http://www.wheatworld.org/html/info.cfm?ID=21.

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