SAN DIEGO & WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Cibus LLC, the U.S. plant breeding technology company and The National Grain Sorghum Producers Foundation today announced a partnership with Valent U.S.A. Corporation, a leading provider of innovative crop protection products, to develop non-GMO, herbicide-tolerant grain sorghum.

Valent brings its expertise in herbicide development and management to an alliance between Cibus and NGSPF. The collaboration pioneers a new standard for providing valuable traits to farmers while avoiding the unknown and potentially unintended consequences associated with GMO crops.

Cibus' proprietary gene conversion technology, known as the Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS(TM)), will be used to develop this new trait in grain sorghum, providing high tolerance levels to Valent's leading postemergence grass herbicide brand, Select Max(R) herbicide with Inside Technology(TM). This will significantly enhance the productivity and profitability of sorghum farming operations, a news release about the announcment said.

"With both Valent's and Cibus' missions to provide innovative and sustainable technologies to the agribusiness community, this collaboration will benefit growers and be a natural fit for us," says Trevor Thorley, president/COO, Valent U.S.A. "Cibus' proven technology opens new doors for all parties, and will help growers more easily produce safe and abundant food. Given the global reach of Valent's parent company, Sumitomo Chemical Company, Ltd., a world leader in the discovery of crop protection and plant enhancement products, we look forward to exploring opportunities with Cibus for other crops around the world."

"Sorghum producers have needed some new grass control options for quite some time," said NGSPF President Bruce Maunder. "Our partnership with Cibus and now Valent will allow for much-needed technology development in our crop. Once it makes its way into producer fields, it should help increase both yields and profitability for sorghum producers."

"This is an exciting project," said NSP CEO Tim Lust. "With new grass control options, producers will begin considering planting sorghum in fields where that may not be an option now. This is a clear win for sorghum producers."

NGSPF plans to use revenues derived from this partnership to reinvest in sorghum research and development as part of a long-term program for sorghum improvement. And since RTDS can develop non-GMO traits faster and at lower cost than transgenic alternatives, this will save farmers an estimated $25 million per crop.

The RTDS(TM) process works through the cell's natural process of gene repair. Every time a cell copies DNA, it makes "scrivener" errors or spelling mistakes. These variations happen all the time, which is how natural variation occurs. Cibus' technology harnesses the cell's own natural DNA repair machinery to correct such spelling mistakes, thus directing DNA repair enzymes to correct and repair the targeted gene in a specific way in order to produce a desired trait. The process, in its precision, is similar to altering a single letter in a word contained within a large book. Nothing in the genome, other than the changes directed by the process, is altered by this approach.

"RTDS promises a revolution in genetics-a limitless range of value added new products that are acceptable to environmentally-conscious consumers and governments, and help farmers solve their toughest pest management problems," says Dr. Keith Walker, President of Cibus. "RTDS technology can be used to create non-GMO plants tolerant to most herbicide chemistries currently marketed to farmers, such as a Select Max(R)-tolerant grain sorghum. But the opportunities also include healthier oils and nutraceutical oils in crops such as canola and soybeans plus many other valuable traits."

"A recent Kansas State University survey of more than 600 sorghum producers from across the United States identified grassy weed control for grain sorghum as their No. 1 research priority. Select Max(R) provides fast and complete control of emerged annual and perennial grassy weeds in over 100 crops, including soybean, sunflower, cotton, and sugar beets," says Joseph Short, product manager for Valent. "Sorghum producers will see increased convenience, yield and profits when they can selectively control grasses with an over-the-top application of Select Max(R)."

Cibus LLC is a privately held San Diego-based trait development company. Cibus produces environmentally friendly crop traits for the agricultural community that do not carry the market-resistance or regulatory burden of attributes engineered through the introduction of foreign genetic material. The Company accomplishes this through the application of a new and proprietary technology called the Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS(TM)), which has proven itself in the laboratory with several different crops, and in initial field trials of Cibus' first commercial crop.

Valent U.S.A. Corp. is a leading provider of innovative, sustainable crop protection products. The firm markets and sells herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, bioinsecticides, insect growth regulators, nematicides, baits and plant growth regulators for the agricultural, horticultural, turf, ornamental and professional pest control markets in North America. Valent is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical Company, Ltd., a world leader in the discovery of crop protection and plant enhancement products.

SOURCE: Joint news release from Cibus, NGSPF and Valent via Business Wire.