New growth layers for Monsanto’s R&D pipeline
Monsanto’s pipeline offers rich growth layers beyond breeding and biotechnology that add incremental growth opportunities going forward, Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley, Ph.D., told investors Wednesday at the Goldman Sachs Basic Materials Conference 2012.
Fraley discussed new technologies with the potential to create real commercial value in Monsanto’s pipeline, including the expansion of the Integrated Farming Systems portfolio and the announcement of a new agricultural biologicals platform featuring BioDirect technology, which represents Monsanto’s first step into biological products. He also touched on emerging global opportunities, highlighting the company’s capital investment in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the continued ascension of agriculture in Brazil and Argentina, all of which are expected to drive Monsanto’s growth over the next several years.
“Our pipeline has evolved significantly from where it was just a few years ago and today it is more exciting and robust than ever,” Fraley said. “Not since we developed the first Roundup Ready trait have we seen such promising categories of value emerging from our pipeline. We’re exploring new areas of technology and new areas of the world, and all roads lead to opportunity for both Monsanto and our farmer customers as we work together to improve yields.”
Monsanto Introduces Ag Biologicals Platform, BioDirect Technology
Fraley introduced the latest addition to the company’s R&D pipeline, early development of ag biological products through Monsanto’s new BioDirect technology. BioDirect brings Monsanto’s expertise in plant genomics to chemistry for the first time, enabling products that could provide new options for sustainable pest or virus control.
Agricultural biologicals are typically topical or seed treatment products that are produced from natural materials and used to complement or replace agricultural chemical products, Fraley said. These products make up a growing market segment, Fraley noted, and today represent roughly $1.7 billion in sales each year.
Fraley said BioDirect is a natural extension of Monsanto’s work in advanced breeding and biotechnology, as it draws on an extensive knowledge of genomics. The BioDirect technology utilizes the application of molecules that are in nature, like RNA, to diminish the production of specific proteins in the target organism.
BioDirect technologies eventually could be used to identify new opportunities for current herbicides, create better insect control options, and offer new virus-control tools. Fraley also cited recent transactions that have complemented and helped accelerate Monsanto’s existing work in this space.