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Monsanto Takes Major Step Toward Launch of World’s First Drought-Tolerant Corn Product

January 7, 2009

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — As farmers around the world
search for innovative new technologies to help them produce more with fewer
resources, Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) announced today that it is a major
step closer to delivering the world’s first-ever drought-tolerant corn product
to farmers.

In the fourth-annual update of its Research and Development (R&D)
pipeline, the world’s leading agriculture company announced that its first-
generation drought-tolerant corn has moved to the fourth — and final — phase
before an anticipated market launch early next decade. The company also
announced that it has submitted the product to the Food & Drug Administration
(FDA) for regulatory clearance.

Drought-tolerant corn is designed to provide farmers yield stability
during periods when water supply is scarce by mitigating the effects of
drought — or water stress — within a corn plant. Field trials for
drought-tolerant corn conducted last year in the Western Great Plains have met
or exceeded the 6 percent to 10 percent target yield enhancement — about 7 to
10 bushels per acre — over the average yield of 70-130 bushels per acre in
some of the key drought-prone areas in the United States.

Steve Padgette, biotechnology lead for Monsanto, noted that this is the
fastest a product has advanced from one phase into another. “In the almost 25
years I have been with Monsanto, the advancement of our drought-tolerant corn
product into Phase 4 is one of our most significant R&D milestones, making
this one of the most exciting times ever for our R&D pipeline,” Padgette said.
“We are now intensively selecting the best trait-germplasm combinations to
deliver excellent drought-stress performance, and value, to our customers upon
launch. This product and other yield improvements we are developing will reset
the bar for on-farm productivity.”

Monsanto’s corn product represents the first in a series of
drought-tolerant and higher-yielding crop technologies which the company is
poised to offer farmers over the next decade. Experts have noted that
drought-tolerant crop technologies represent one potential tool for ensuring
greater sustainability and production within agriculture. Products under
development by Monsanto are designed to enable farmers to produce more on each
acre of farmland while minimizing the input of energy and resources such as
water.

Drought-tolerant corn technology is just one of the products currently
under development as part of Monsanto’s R&D and commercialization
collaboration in plant biotechnology with German-based BASF. The two
companies are jointly contributing $1.5 billion over the life of the
collaboration, which is aimed at developing higher-yielding crops and crops
more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions such as drought.

“This product is the first result of BASF and Monsanto’s plant biotech
collaboration. Our joint product pipeline has many high performing drought
tolerant genes, which make us confident that we can live up to our commitment
of delivering successive generations of ever more drought-tolerant crops,”
said Hans Kast, President and Chief Executive Officer of BASF Plant Science.

Higher-yielding — or Intrinsic Yield — soybean technology, being
developed by the companies, which is expected to enable soybean farmers to
produce more bushels out of each acre, also moved another step closer to farm
fields.

The product, which promises higher yields through the insertion of a key
gene, moved into Phase 3 and will now undergo expanded field trials,
regulatory studies and trait integration into elite soybean germplasm. Once
commercially available, the higher-yielding soybeans will build upon the
company’s Roundup Ready 2 Yield platform and provide farmers with an
additional boost to the incremental yield advantage from that product-line.
Intrinsic Yield soybeans are also part of Monsanto’s R&D and commercialization
collaboration in plant biotechnology with German-based BASF.

Other key crop projects advance, new crop technologies added

Monsanto also updated the status of other corn, cotton and soybean
products in its R&D pipeline:

— SmartStax corn – SmartStax contains multiple different modes of
action, for insect-resistance management, is more effective against above- and
below-ground insects, and offers the company’s most comprehensive weed-control
system. The product moved to Phase 4, the final step prior to the product’s
anticipated 2010 commercial launch. In June 2008, Monsanto submitted a
request to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set refuge
requirements for SmartStax at 5 percent in the northern Corn Belt and 20
percent in southern states where cotton is planted, which are lower than those
for existing technologies. Monsanto noted that the EPA has already granted
reduced refuge requirements for the product’s second-generation YieldGard corn
borer technology, which is a key step in the process for receiving approval
for SmartStax refuge reduction.

— Dicamba- and Glufosinate-tolerant cotton – As the first three-way
stack of herbicide-tolerant technologies in the pipeline, dicamba-tolerant
cotton moved to Phase 2. It adds two new modes of action — Dicamba and
Glufosinate tolerance — to the Roundup Ready Flex system, and is expected to
provide farmers with the greatest flexibility in weed management and the most
effective weed-control system available.

Two projects were added to Monsanto’s R&D pipeline this year, including:

— Second-generation, insect-protected Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans -
This second-generation insect-control product is tailored to South American
farmers’ needs and includes an additional mode of action for potential reduced
refuge requirements. This project is currently in Phase 1.

— Roundup Ready, insect-protected sugarcane – Now in the Proof-of-
Concept Phase, this Phase 1 project will leverage Monsanto’s recent investment
in sugarcane.

Helping farmers increase yield, meet the demands of a growing population

As the world’s population grows, so are the demands on agriculture and the
need to get more out of each acre. Monsanto is committed to help farmers
boost on-farm productivity through established and new advancements in plant
breeding and biotechnology.

In June 2008, Monsanto announced an ambitious plan to double yields in its
three core crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — by 2030 compared to a base
year of 2000 — as part of a three-point pledge called the Sustainable Yield
Initiative. The company also committed to conserving more of the world’s
precious natural resources by reducing by a third, the aggregate amount of key
inputs such as water, land and energy, required to produce each unit.
Monsanto plans to do this by providing choices for modern agricultural

technology to its stakeholders and has committed to helping resource-poor farm
families.

The company’s investment in breeding and biotechnology research is key to
meeting these commitments. Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day on
leading agricultural research.

Additional information

Monsanto will be holding a press conference later today at 1:30 p.m.
(Central Time)
. To register for this conference, please visit
https://intercall.webex.com/intercall/j.php?ED=111577832&RG=1&UID=0. In
addition, Monsanto has posted a related presentation on its web site in the
“Investor Information” section at:
http://www.monsanto.com/investors/presentations.asp. To learn more about
Monsanto’s R&D pipeline and its phases, please visit:
http://www.monsanto.com/products/pipeline/.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based
solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food
quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-
scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our
world’s natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our
business and our commitments, please visit: http://www.monsanto.com.

Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking
statements, such as statements concerning the company’s future product
performance, regulatory approvals, business and financial plans and other non-
historical facts. These statements are based on current expectations and
currently available information. However, since these statements are based on
factors that involve risks and uncertainties, the company’s actual performance
and results may differ materially from those described or implied by such
forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such
differences include, among others: the success of the companies’ research and
development activities; the costs of and the companies’ abilities to access
and enforce intellectual property needed for the collaboration; the costs and
requirements of regulatory compliance and the speed with which approvals are
received; public acceptance of biotechnology products; and other risks and
factors detailed in the company’s most recent periodic report to the SEC.
Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which
are current only as of the date of this presentation. The company disclaims
any current intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements
or any of the factors that may affect actual results.

Note to editors: Roundup Ready, Roundup Ready 2 Yield and SmartStax are
trademarks of Monsanto Company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries.

SOURCE Monsanto Company


Source: newswire



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