DuPont funds plant breeding research

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Genetically modified food, Dupont

DuPont has entered into a partnership with a US university, where
it will fund research for the genetic improvement of crops and
plant nutrition, the firm announced yesterday.

The biotech giant pledged $150,000 in an effort to help educate the next generation of plant breeders and geneticists. "The potential for solutions from crop genetics research to meet global demands for food, feed, fuel and materials continues to grow. This presents a tremendous opportunity for highly trained, well-educated plant breeders and scientists to be on the cutting edge of significant research,"​ said William Niebur, vice president, DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development. Beginning this year, DuPont will provide two $25,000 fellowships to support graduate students in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. The fellowships, which will be administered by DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, are renewable each year through 2009. Purdue also will provide matching funds for a total of $300,000 over three years. "The world has come to recognize the incredible potential for plant genetics to help solve global challenges. We need to make sure we have the best and brightest working to develop these solutions,"​ said Niebur. In February, DuPont announced it was to begin executing a $100m reinvestment plan, which is designed to increase the firm's innovation and meet growing demand for grain. The plan includes the addition of more than 400 positions, mainly in research and development in Pioneer, and is designed to boost the company's plant genetics and biotechnology platforms. The reinvestment comes after an aggressive reorganization strategy in the firm's nutrition and crop protection businesses. Announced in December 2006, this involved closing or streamlining 10 plants and slashing 1,500 jobs globally. According to DuPont, its Pioneer business will be expanding R&D efforts at 67 of its 92 research centers worldwide. New positions will be filled by redeploying current employees from other DuPont businesses and outside hiring. Rivals Monsanto and BASF also recently announced plans to increase R&D efforts. The two firms last month entered into a research and development agreement that aims to pool the companies' resources in an effort to bring a greater number of traits to the market at a faster speed. The two companies said they will dedicate a joint budget of potentially $1.5bn to fund a pipeline of yield and stress tolerance traits for corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. The joint pipeline will include the companies' existing and planned yield and stress tolerance programs and be comprised of projects generated by independent plant biotechnology discovery and research from each company.

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