ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto Company and Divergence Inc. are extending their ongoing collaboration agreement to develop nematode-resistant soybeans, having reached key milestones already.

The two companies initiated this relationship in 2004.

Under the agreement, Monsanto had an option to extend the agreement for one year. Due to research and development accomplishments, Monsanto decided to exercise this option and take advantage of extending the collaboration for an additional year.

"During the past two years, Monsanto and Divergence have made notable progress and good early success," said Robert T. Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Monsanto. "We've had a productive relationship. We're looking forward to the next year bringing us even closer to new tools that will allow U.S. soybean growers better protection against nematodes to maximize farm productivity and efficiency."

The targeted pest, soybean cyst nematode, attacks roots of soybeans during the growing season, and the annual U.S. yield loss can amount to a billion-dollar problem for soybean growers.

As part of the collaboration, Monsanto gained exclusive rights to Divergence's existing technology in this area and provided funding for ongoing research by Divergence.

Divergence has received milestone payments under the collaboration based on research and development successes and will receive royalties once applicable products reach the marketplace. Divergence anticipates that it will earn additional milestone payments in the remaining term of the collaboration.

"Monsanto and Divergence have capitalized on strong scientific capabilities, consistent philosophies, and effective communications to make significant advances," said Derek K. Rapp, CEO of Divergence. "With the combination of effective product candidates and Monsanto's leadership positions in soy germplasm and trait development, we are increasingly hopeful that our relationship can lead to important products with yield benefits for growers."

Divergence is dedicated to the discovery of effective and ecologically sound strategies for the control of parasites and other pests. The company's initial focus is on parasitic nematodes, one of the world's major pest groups.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company; Divergence, Inc. via PR Newswire.