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Agriculture Research Companies to Partner on Insect Control

Nematodes (USDA.gov)

Nematodes are parasites against which Devgen is developing new crop protection technologies. (USDA.gov)

Syngenta, a developer of agricultural products in Basel, Switzerland and Devgen, an agro-biotech company in Ghent, Belgium have agreed on a licensing and development partnership for new insect-control products based on genetic technologies. The six-year agreement has an estimated value of at least €50.8 million ($US 65.5 million).

The partnership will enable Syngenta to add RNA interference (RNAi) technology developed by Devgen to its crop protection pipeline. RNAi occurs when an organism shuts down specific genes in its cells based on their sequence identity to a short double stranded RNA target. When an RNAi spray directed to an insect pest is applied to a crop, insects that feed on the crop ingest the sprayed double stranded RNA. The RNAi mechanism in the target insects then shuts down the insect gene that corresponds to the double stranded RNA. This process makes it possible to control damaging insects without inflicting harm on beneficial insects.

Under the agreement, Devgen will license its RNAi-based technology to Syngenta, which will in turn will develop and commercialize sprayable crop protection products from that technology. After April 2013, the two companies will jointly develop new biological insect control solutions based on RNAi technology.

Devgen is expected to upgrade its research activities from funding and royalties from Syngenta, which will pay an initial €22 milion, with €4.8 million per year to fund research over the six years of the agreement. Devgen is also eligible to receive royalties from Syngenta on sales of developed products.

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