Monsanto, Seed Firm Sign Deal Pioneer Licenses Research on Fighting Corn Borers

Article excerpt

Monsanto Co. said Wednesday that it had licensed certain insect-fighting technology to Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., an agricultural giant that produces seeds for corn and other crops.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Monsanto will license to Pioneer its genetic engineering research for protecting corn against the European corn borer and related pests. Pioneer is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

Monsanto's YieldGard technology, still under review by the federal government, uses a protein from a common bacterium to repel the pests.

The bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), has become the weapon of choice among several companies creating plants with built-in protection against insects. Monsanto, for example, has begun marketing a BT potato and a BT cotton, each designed to fight specific pests.

Scientists insert a BT gene into the plants, and the gene creates a protein that damages the digestive systems of pests. The BT protein doesn't hurt beneficial insects, birds, animals or humans.

"Conventional chemical insecticides do not provide effective and efficient control (of the European corn borer)," said Tom Klevorn, Monsanto's business director for corn. …