Vilmorin and KWS have decided to join their efforts in developing GM corn traits. Both parties have reached agreement to organize this research collaboration in a 50/50 joint venture company, subject to approval by the antitrust authorities.

With GM corn being increasingly cultivated in many parts of the world, Vilmorin and KWS focus on gatekeeper traits that are already under development (herbicide and insect resistance), as well as on other innovative traits that will allow each partner to commercialize proprietary GM corn seeds to satisfy demands in specific key markets. For both companies genetic engineering has become more and more a standard method in plant breeding. Consequently KWS and Vilmorin decided to intensify their respective research activities in this area.

“With 148 million hectares of GM crops being planted globally, of which 30% in corn, this is a high value market with progressive growth. We wish to develop proprietary technologies that can strengthen our development in potential GM markets like Europe and Asia. In other markets, in addition to our current GM traits for corn – which are licensed in from partners – we want to create complementary solutions for our customers”, Philip von dem Bussche, CEO of KWS stated.

“This joint research platform with KWS, with whom we already have a successful 50/50 AgReliant partnership in North America, will allow us to share costs, speed up developments and possibly broaden the scope to other innovative technologies that meet the demands of farmers globally. Both partners are ready and interested to place the new traits at the disposal of other companies also in combination with other traits available on the market” said Emmanuel Rougier, CEO of Vilmorin.

The research work will be executed in the facilities of KWS and Vilmorin as well as by third parties. First products on the market are expected not earlier than in four years.