Monsanto-Embrapa biotechnology research projects

Among the studies to benefit are, the development of genetic resources for drought-adapted cereals, for water-stress tolerant transgenic beans, for the generation of papaya trees resistant to multiple viruses and studies involving the cotton boll weevil.
The announcement was made today (November 4), in a ceremony at the entity headquarters, in Brasília (DF), with assignment, by Monsanto, of R$ 8.3 million to the Fundo de Pesquisa Embrapa e Monsanto [Embrapa-Monsanto Research Fund]. The amounts derive from the sharing of intellectual property rights, payable as royalties, over the commercialization of Embrapa’s soybean varieties containing Roundup Ready® technology in 2008/2009 season. The resources will be invested in Embrapa’s research project (more details below), chosen through a managing committee of the Research Fund that Monsanto has in partnership with Embrapa. Publication1.jpgSince 2006 until this year, Monsanto has already assigned to the Research Fund approximately R$ 20 million which have benefited dozens of biotechnology projects of several Embrapa’s units. The vice president of International Business for Monsanto Company, Jesus Madrazo, came to Brazil to honor the event. For him, this partnership with Embrapa opens paths to the development of other technologies that may result in increased yield to farmers. The initiative also supports projects that may make agriculture more sustainable. “Due to the increasing agricultural demand, a joint effort is required so that we can produce more and preserve more. We are positive that, in partnership with clients, politicians, scientists, non-governmental organizations, academics and the industry we can make agriculture more sustainable.”
According to André Dias, president of Monsanto Brazil, this partnership with Embrapa confirms the company’s commitment with agriculture and with farmers. “Our investments are focused on the development of new agricultural technologies that can increase yield, preserving the natural resources and allow farmers to live better. In line with this focus, we are deeply proud to have Embrapa as our partner, which is global reference in the development of agricultural research”, the executive states. For Embrapa, the partnership with Monsanto is strategic. “Agreements like these, focused on agricultural research and innovation, are essential, and are in line with the government priorities, as it reunites public and private sectors to face the global challenge of increasing agricultural yield in a sustainable way”, completes the president director of Embrapa, Pedro Antônio Arraes Pereira.

Projects contemplated
The resources assigned will contemplate the following Embrapa’s research projects:
– Expression of genes involved with the answer to water stress in transgenic bean plants, with resources amounting to R$ 447 thousand. The purpose is obtaining drought-tolerant transgenic beans, through the expression of an isolated gene from soybeans and another from castor beans.  Transgenic bean plant obtained from the expression of these two genes can be tolerant to other types of stress.
– Technological platform for the expression and production of recombinant proteins in plants, with R$ 690 thousand. The idea is to  develop a  platform, based on the partnership among Embrapa, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the New York Branch of Human Cancer Immunology at memorial Sloam-Ketting Cancer Center Research and the National Institute of Health (NIH), institutions considered national and international references in gene cloning, transgenics, biomolecular production and immunology. The focus of the platform will be the expression and production of proteins of interest in the medical area and in agriculture for plants such as soybeans, for instance.
– Phenotyping, assessment of tolerance and genomic association mechanisms applied to the development of genetic resources of drought-adapted cereals, with R$ 3.3 million. The purpose of the work will be the identification and characterization of genetic resources and physiologic and molecular drought-tolerance mechanisms in rice, corn, wheat and sorghum, assessed under field conditions. The development of cultivars tolerant to water stress will be a sustainable alternative to minimize the negative impacts of global climatic changes.
– Study of the transcriptome of the Cotton Boll Weevil (Anthonomus grandis) and of the Giant Borer (Telchin licus licus) for evaluation of genes candidate to silencing through RNAi, with R$ 448.5 thousand. The project will seek to, through the genetic alteration of plants, control these two important pests which affect national agriculture.
– Development of strategy based on RNAi for generation of papaya plant resistant to multiple viruses, with R$ 450 thousand. This project is aimed at developing new papaya breeds that are simultaneously resistant to the papaya ringspot virus, to the papaya yellowing virus and to the papaya meleira virus (the main diseased of this crop) using biotechnology tolls. The production of papaya cultivars resistant to the infection by these viruses is the most promising and wanted option to be used in an integrated pest management.
– Improvement of the managing system of Diabrotica spp. in corn and potato crops, with R$ 443.9 thousand. Diabrotica speciosa is a pest-insect that affects several crops in Brazil and is commonly seen in all the Brazilian states and in several countries in South America. The transfer of exogenous genes to species of plants cultivated from the new genetic engineering techniques led to the development of insect-resistant crops. The most spread and studied insect-resistant genes are those that express proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Study and management methods will be created for genetic modified organisms (GMOs), such as the monitoring of insect populations in laboratory as far their susceptibility to the commercial product is concerned.
– Morphologic and molecular characterization of Noctuids and determination of susceptibility to Bacillus thuringiensis-based insecticides and toxins, with R$ 217 thousand. To fight the simultaneous growth of worm species in soybean crops, rural producers have been increasingly using broad-spectrum chemical insecticides (pyrethroids, organophospates and carbamates), which has restricted the use of more selective products (i.e., the AgMNPV virus of the Velvetbean Caterpillar and Bacillus thuringiensis).  The increase on the use of pyrethroids and some organophospates has caused an increase in other pest populations, such as, for instance, mites, which makes the proper management of soybean pests more difficult. Therefore, monitoring is essential in pest management programs to verify if the inefficiency of chemical control is due to the selection of resistant genotypes or even to determine the real condition of the response of geographical populations to an insecticide (or toxin) and determine if a change in the management tactics is necessary. 
The balance of the funds will be geared towards the contribution to the Development Program of genetically modified soybeans lineages with Bt and RR2 genes, concomitantly to the elaboration of a contention and traceability program – ”Stewardship”, already ongoing under Embrapa Soja, with R$ 1.1 million, and for the management and monitoring of activities geared towards the performance of projects.

About Embrapa
Created in April 1973, the mission of The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), associated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply to provide feasible research, development and innovation solutions for sustainable agriculture, to the benefit of the Brazilian society. Over the last three decades, the studies and technologies developed by the Corporation and its partners caused major transformations to Brazilian agribusiness and economy. Among others enterprises, Brazil created and developed, in a pioneer achievement worldwide, the soybean adapted to tropical regions. The results achieved and the investment in innovation transformed the Country and the company into technology references in tropical agriculture. Brazil is one of the world leaders in production and exports of several agriculture and livestock products and forecasts indicate that it will also be, in a short time, the main global site for the production of biofuels from sugarcane and vegetable oils. Thanks to that position in the global landscape, Brazil started to have decisive influence on the price and flow of foods and other agricultural commodities. The vision of future, the importance given to the development of human resources and the capacity to be in harmony with the progress of science allow Embrapa to contribute to position Brazil in the front line of knowledge on emerging themes such as agroenergy, carbon credits and biosafety in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and precision agriculture.

About Monsanto
Monsanto has been in Brazil for over 60 years. Pioneer in the development of state-of-the-art technology products – herbicides, conventional and genetically modified seeds -, the company seeks solutions that allow farmers to produce more while using fewer resources. To achieve that purpose, each year, the company invests US$ 1 billion in the research and development of new products, and intends to double yield of corn, soybean and cotton seeds by 2030, to develop seeds that reduce by 1/3 the amount of resources used by each unit produced, and to share expertise with farmers to increase their access to modern agriculture technologies, especially in poor and developing countries. Considered for 10 consecutive years (2000 to 2009) one of the best companies to work for in Brazil according to guides released by Exame / Voce S.A magazines and Época magazine, and one of the 100 best companies in the Latin America (2004, 2005 and 2006), Monsanto currently employs around 2.7 thousand people. In 2009, it was considered the third most admired company in agribusiness by Carta Capital magazine. It was also appointed, in 2008 and 2009, by Business Week magazine as one of the 20 most influent companies in the world. The Company profited R$ 2.5 billion in Brazil in 2008, producing and marketing Roundup herbicides, conventional soybean seeds (Monsoy) and genetically modified soybean seeds (Roundup Ready®), conventional and genetically modified corn seeds (Agroceres, Sementes Agroceres and Dekalb), sorghum seeds, cotton (Deltapine), and, also, green vegetable seeds (Seminis). In November of 2008, Monsanto entered the sugarcane market, with the acquisition of Canavialis / Allelyx, from Group Votorantim Novos Negócios. In February 2009 it acquired 49% of MDM, reinforcing its position in the cotton market. In 2008, the company assigned R$ 7.4 million to social and environmental projects throughout Brazil, having that amount gone up to R$ 9.4 in 2009. 

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