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Monsanto R&D pipeline launches record 14 projects

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For the fourth straight year, Monsanto boasted 20 pipeline advancements across their portfolio with a record-breaking 14 projects set to advance. The company’s core pipeline is expected to deliver up to $25 billion of peak net sales, with incremental values from new platforms.

“I believe our science and our pipeline are stronger than ever. In fact not only is this the fourth consecutive year of more than 20 pipeline advancements, our advancement class of fiscal year 2017 also brings a record 14 projects advancing to commercial launch,” said Robert Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto’s chief technology officer, in Monsanto’s R&D pipeline update today. “What i think is just as impressive as the 28 advancements is the remarkable balance of the advancement class. It showcases the depth and the breadth of the pipeline. This marks the sixth straight year projects have advanced across all of our R&D platforms whether it is breeding, biotech, biologicals, crop protection, or digital ag and climate.”

Through genome-editing tools, the company has been able to develop the next generation of products. Fraley highlighted two particular projects that he thinks could be transformational in the years ahead:

  • Accerlon B300 SAT: Through a collaboration with Bayer, Acceleron Seed Applied Solutions, is aimed at managing disease infections during key stages of the growing season. Monsanto estimates the product could have a fit on more than 90 million acres and farmers will get a first look at this product this year.
  • NemaStrike Technology, a novel seed-applied nematode-control solution, has demonstrated the ability to control pressure from multiple nematode species. Fraley said research showed another year of outstanding results from the product with approximately a two bushel yield advantage in soybeans and a seven bushel advantage in corn. This product remains on track to launch in 2018.

Fraley said the story gets more exciting with the Bayer and Monsanto combination as it will provide an opportunity to accelerate innovation, optimize integrated solutions, and expand offerings to farmers. He offered examples such as:

  • Herbicides: From the discovery phase through commercialization, parallel development of the herbicide and the trait can better facilitate joint testing, prioritization, and integration. This can lead to developing products for farmers faster, shaving years off of the delivery timelines.
  • Disease outbreaks: The duo company combination can assist farmers knowing which field needs immediate attention, can assist with identifying disease outbreaks, and can diagnosis what fungicide product would be optimal.

“This deal is an innovation catalyst and we expect it to benefit farmers by optimizing and expanding R&D investment and allowing us to really up our game,” Fraley said. “It will accelerate the pace of scientific innovation and our ability to provide integrated seed traits and chemistry solutions. Finally, it will allow us to expand our technology platforms into new crops like wheat and geographies like Asia and Africa.”

Other 2017 R&D highlights include:

  • The BioAg Alliance, a partnership between Monsanto and Novozymes that focuses on microbial solutions, continues to grow the depth and breadth of its pipeline.
  • The Climate FieldView platform allows farmers to collect and analyze field data from multiple sources — including the soil, field and atmosphere — and provides valuable insights to help farmers get the most out of every acre. A package of insights to identify and predict disease vulnerability and diagnose key crop diseases are planned to be added to Climate FieldView offerings. To help more of the world’s farmers increase productivity with digital tools, the company plans to continue to grow the Climate FieldView platform geographically, with expansion expected in the U.S., Brazil and Canada this year — and Europe, South Africa, Australia and Argentina over the next few years.
  • Higher-Yielding Corn, a family of corn plants with traits for increased yield potential, is also advancing in the pipeline. This project is part of the company’s Yield & Stress research collaboration with BASF.
  • Broad, integrated solutions to address yield-limiting diseases, for example:
    • Breeding research that aims to curb the effects of disease on both vegetables and row crops, including Downy Mildew-Resistant Lettuce and the DEKALB  Disease Shield corn hybrids platform.
  • Next-generation insect and weed control technologies – including Bollgard  3 XtendFlex  Cotton and Fourth-Generation Herbicide-Tolerant Corn, respectively – are poised to offer farmers new ways to mitigate challenges from damaging pests and weeds.
  • Research to promote the health of honey bees, which are critically important pollinators for our food system. Research underway at Monsanto, called BioDirect  Technology: Bee Health Varroa Control, represents an innovative biological approach to target this devastating threat to bees.

“One of the things that has always been a hallmark of our portfolio process is that from day one we integrate our R&D and commercial thinking together and so we are trying to bring all of this together to make the right solutions happen for farmers,” Fraley said.

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