DAVIS, Calif. -- AgraQuest Inc., a leading provider of natural and innovative pest management products, announced today that it has acquired Codena Inc., a Quebec-based company that specializes in the research and development of insecticides derived from plant extracts.

AgraQuest gains a new natural insecticide for controlling soft-bodied insects. The worldwide pesticide market is over $30 billion annually, with insecticides accounting for approximately 25 percent of the market, or over $7 billion. Biopesticides are the fastest growing segment, increasing at a rate greater than 20 percent per year.

"This acquisition reaffirms AgraQuest's leading position in the large and fast-growing natural pest management market. Codena's unique insecticide provides an excellent complement to AgraQuest's existing line of fungicides and fits perfectly with our product development and commercialization strategy," said Mike Miille, Ph.D., CEO of AgraQuest. "With this acquisition, we are now positioned to enter the insecticide market with a product that meets our criteria of being effective, safe and natural."

New botanical insecticide

Based on a proprietary mix of compounds extracted from a Latin American herbaceous plant, the new insecticide targets mites, whitefly, fungus gnats, aphids and other insects. With performance properties proven through more than three years of field trials in the US and Canada, the botanical insecticide will be further developed by AgraQuest to offer conventional and sustainable growers the advantages of increased worker safety, quicker re-entry following application, broader efficacy, and superior resistance-prevention compared to synthetic chemical insecticides. The insecticide's superior performance also makes it a valuable tool for organic growers in need of a more effective option than soaps, neem oils or other available pest control options.

Helene Chiasson, Ph.D., founder of Codena, served as the principal investigator at Groupe Conseil UDA, an agriculture, forestry, and environmental consulting group, where she discovered the botanical extract. Chiasson left UDA and helped found Codena in 2001 to further develop the extract for commercial use.

"It is highly satisfying to see the project I have pursued for so many years be adopted by a company with the vision, resources and ingenuity required to bring it to market," said Chiasson. "In my view, AgraQuest is the preeminent partner in the biopesticide market."

Following the acquisition, Chiasson will continue her work in the development of botanical-based insecticides as director of plant extract formulation and chemistry for AgraQuest.

"Codena's core strength and proprietary work in botanical extracts is a tremendous asset to AgraQuest, complementing our expertise in microbial research to discover biopesticides," said Pam Marrone, Ph.D., president and founder of AgraQuest. "The product possibilities created by this acquisition are very exciting for our agricultural and retail customers, alike."

With EPA approval expected by the end of 2006, AgraQuest will continue to develop the insecticide for use on greenhouse ornamentals and outdoor nursery potted crops. AgraQuest plans to launch the new insecticide product for the ornamental market in 2007 and to follow with additional formulations for use on turf grass, home gardens and food crops.

AgraQuest is a biotechnology company that focuses on discovering, developing, manufacturing and marketing effective, safe and environmentally friendly natural pest management products for agricultural, institutional and home markets.

Codena, Inc. was founded in 2001 to pursue the development and marketing of organic-based botanical biopesticides. The company has successfully developed an insecticide based on an extract of a selected plant variety, and formulated it into an emulsifiable concentrate for foliar application in greenhouses, a micro-emulsion for soil application on turf and a ready-to-use spray for the retail market.

SOURCE: AgraQuest Inc. via PR Newswire.