* In 1/98, Mycogen Corp. and J.G. Boswell Co. formed a joint venture company, Phytogen Seed Co. LLC, to develop and market genetically enhanced cotton seed with value-added traits (insect- and disease-resistance). Mycogen, which owns 51% of Phytogen, will contribute cash, cotton breeding material and licenses to its patents for genetically enhanced cotton. Boswell will contribute its cotton seed business and cotton breeding material in exchange for cash and a 49% interest.
* In 4/98, Rhone-Poulenc Agro (a unit of Rhone-Poulenc SA) and Biogemma (a biotech company jointly owned by French seed companies Limagrain and Pau-Euralis plus financial institutions Unigrains and Sofiproteol) formed a joint venture in plant biotech. The new venture, Rhobio, will work on plant disease resistance, create gene libraries and develop appropriate genetic engineering technology.
* In 5/98, Cargill Inc. and Monsanto Co. signed a letter of intent to form a worldwide, 50/50 joint venture to develop biotech-enhanced products with improved processing efficiencies (grain) and enhanced animal nutritional qualities (animal feed). Each partner will invest $100M annually in the joint venture.
* In 5/98, Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc. formed a new agbiotech company, Xyris Inc. Xyris gets worldwide exclusive licenses to Axys' genomics, combinatorial chemistry and small-molecule discovery technologies for use in agricultural applications. Axys retained a majority stake; San Francisco merchant bank Bay City Capital provided $10M in financing.
* In 7/98, Monsanto Co., the Missouri Botanical Garden, the University of Missouri-Columbia and Washington University-St Louis unveiled plans for a not-for-profit independent research center for plant biotech. Monsanto and the Danforth Foundation will contribute $146.4M toward the center, named the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
* In 7/98, The Novartis Research Foundation, part of Novartis AG, pledged $600M over 10 years to fund the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute, focused on agricultural genomics. The institute will use genomics research to improve plant traits and to develop new methods of crop protection and new animal health products. It will also generate databases that relate genes, their proteins and the traits they affect. The Novartis Research Foundation will own the patents; the parent company, Novartis AG, has the right of first refusal on licensing these patents.
* In 9/98, Dow AgroSciences LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Co.) formed a new company, Advanced AgriTraits LLC, for agbiotech partnering. Advanced AgriTraits will act as a clearinghouse for biotech companies and academic researchers interested in offering their technology (including input traits and output traits) to the seed industry via strategic alliances and licensing agreements. Dow AgroSciences will contribute its own genes and crop traits, including a library of insect control technologies.
* In 9/98, a consortium of French companies, institutions and agencies formed Genoplante, a joint research program in plant genomics. The consortium consists of the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), Rhone-Poulenc SA, Biogemma, seed companies Sigma/Serasem and Florimond Desprez, the International Cooperation Center for Development-Based Agricultural Research (CIRAD) and the French Institute of Scientific Research for Cooperative Development (ORSTOM). Genoplante, which will serve as a network to coordinate research, aims to build new knowledge on the structure and function of plant genomes, with a focus on the main crops grown in Europe.
* In 10/98, Dow AgroSciences LLC and Rhone-Poulenc Agro signed a letter of intent to form a worldwide biotech research alliance to develop genetically modified plants and seed products containing multiple traits (insect resistance, herbicide tolerance). The initial focus will be on corn, canola, soybean, sunflower, sugar cane and cotton.