Agro-firms Monsanto and Bayer CropSciences have entered into a series of new agreements, which could result in crops that contain two of the leading herbicide technologies - Roundup Ready and LibertyLink.
The long-term business and licensing agreements relate specifically to corn and soybean crops, the two largest field crops in terms of acreage in the United States.
Bayer CropScience will grant Monsanto a royalty bearing, non-exclusive license for its LibertyLink herbicide tolerance technology for use in these crops, allowing Monsanto to market corn and soybean seeds which contain both its own Roundup Ready and Bayer's LibertyLink.
According to chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience Dr Friedrich Berschauer the agreements are an important step for Bayer as they could significantly broaden the availability of its LibertyLink technology outside its core cotton and canola seed business.
"At the same time, the agreements enable us to facilitate the development and commercialization of new technology solutions in the future," he said.
Monsanto and Bayer also said they have amended certain existing agreements in the area of herbicide tolerance to provide more favorable terms for both firms.
In the area of insect resistance, the two companies have also entered into a royalty-bearing agreement giving Bayer CropScience rights under certain
Monsanto intellectual property.
In addition, the companies amended other agreements related to insect-protection technologies, including Monsanto's existing license for use of Bayer Dual Bt technology. This enables Monsanto to commercialize products containing multiple insect resistance genes with different modes of action.
As part of the agreements, the firms said they cross-licensed each other under their respective patent estates for RNAi technology, an enabling technology for the development of new agricultural products.
In a separate announcement, Monsanto said it has entered into a three-year research collaboration with biotech firm Athenix. The agreement concerns insect control on a class of insects that affects a number of Monsanto's major crops of interest.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Under the collaboration, Athenix will apply its microbial screening and genomics knowledge to facilitate gene discovery intended to help protect crops such as cotton, soybeans and corn against a common class of insects known as Hemipterans.