Monsanto Company announced it has purchased select assets of Agradis Inc., a privately held company focused on developing sustainable agricultural solutions. Monsanto's purchase includes the Agradis name and its collection of microbes that can improve crop productivity. Monsanto has also acquired the company's R&D site in La Jolla, Calif. Additional details were not disclosed.
Agradis was formed in 2011 by Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately held company led by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. Founder and CEO, dedicated to developing genomic-driven solutions to address global challenges, and Plenus, S.A. de C.V., a Mexico-based investing and management company headed by Alfonso Romo, which has extensive experience in a variety of business areas, including agribusiness. The assets of Agradis not purchased by Monsanto include castor and sweet sorghum breeding and genetic optimization technologies, as well as a novel product used to prevent fungal growth on fruits and vegetables. These assets will continue to be advanced by Synthetic Genomics and Plenus in a new company, AgraCast.
"Agradis' collection of plant associated microbes will support Monsanto's efforts to provide farmers with sustainable biological products to improve crop health and productivity," said Steve Padgette, Monsanto R&D investment strategy lead. "We value the expertise and capabilities the Agradis team brings to Monsanto as we continue to build on this exciting area of research."
Venter said, "SGI and Plenus formed Agradis with the belief that our extensive expertise in microbial genomics could accelerate advances in agriculture. We are pleased that Monsanto realizes the potential of the Agradis science and technology as evidenced by their acquisition of some key assets of the company. We look forward to working with Monsanto to continue to generate innovation in agribusiness."
The announcement also includes an agricultural research agreement between Monsanto and Synthetic Genomics. The multi-year research collaboration will focus on the analysis of microbe-plant communities and screening for beneficial microorganisms that could be used to develop additional biological products to improve agricultural productivity. Monsanto has also made an equity investment in SGI. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
"We look forward to bringing together the genomics strength of Monsanto, Agradis and Synthetic Genomics to identify new agricultural solutions," Padgette added. "We share a common vision that sustainable agricultural products can help meet growing demand, and Monsanto views SGI as an excellent partner in helping bring innovation to growers."
Monsanto launched the agricultural biologicals platform of its research and development pipeline last year with the introduction of BioDirect technology. Learn more about Monsanto's agricultural biologicals platform.