Calgene Inc. will begin field trials later this year of agenetically engineered canola plant that will produce laurate, araw material used in the soap, detergent, oleochemical,personal care and food industries, the company saidWednesday.

At present, laurate is extracted from coconut and palm kernel,of which about a billion pounds are imported from SoutheastAsia into the United States each year. By eliminating thetransportation costs and taking advantage of a growing seasonthat is longer in the United States than in Canada, Calgeneshould be able to "generate true cost advantages and a morecertain and stable source of supply," Dan Wagster, chieffinancial officer, told BioWorld.

In May, Calgene (NASDAQ:CGNE) announced that it had clonedthe gene for lauroyl-ACP thioesterase, the enzyme essential toformation of lauric acid in plants. The company plans to beginmarketing laurate from canola after a two- to three-year fielddevelopment phase, said Wagster. The trials may begin this fallon a less-than-five-acre plot in Georgia, he said.

The stock gained 88 cents to $14.25 on Wednesday. -- KH

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