ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto announced today that it will provide academic researchers and public institutions free access to its state-of-the-art cyst nematode marker technology.

Scientists and soybean breeders are expected to use this technology to effectively develop new soybean varieties aimed at resisting the yield-robbing pest soybean cyst nematode.

"During the past seven years, we have been investigating ways to identify soybean cyst nematode resistant traits in soybeans using genetic markers. By sharing what we know, researchers around the world will be able to more accurately identify resistant soybeans and breed for them," said Bob Reiter, Vice President of Breeding Technology for Monsanto.

According to the USDA, soybean cyst nematode has threatened the U.S. crop since the 1950s, reducing returns to soybean producers by $500 million each year and yields by as much as 75 percent. "Now that this genetic marker technology is broadly available, we hope it will spur more research in the area of cyst nematode resistance and benefit the U.S. soybean industry and soybean farmers," Reiter said. "This announcement represents an example of the Monsanto Pledge, in which we commit to share our knowledge and technology."

Today's announcement, which was made during the 2007 National Soybean Breeders - Pathologists' Workshop Conference in St. Louis, builds upon prior donations in support of soybean, corn and cotton producers. This initiative serves as another example of the company's commitment to bolster innovation in the industry, advance science and understanding and improve agriculture and the environment.

Academic researchers and public institutions who request access will be given a royalty-free license for using the rhg1 marker under a patent that was granted to Monsanto in December 2006 (Hauge et al., U.S. Patent No. 7,154,021). Researchers are encouraged to contact Connie Armentrout with Monsanto's technology alliances team at (314) 694-5898 or for information regarding how to obtain a license or gain access to this technology.

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

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.