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2-Plants: New venture in forestry biotechnology announced



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TITLE:  New venture in forestry biotechnology announced
SOURCE: Biogenetic S.A., Press Release
DATE:   July 20, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


NEW VENTURE IN FORESTRY BIOTECHNOLOGY ANNOUNCED

PRINCETON, N.J. and SANTIAGO, Chile -- Biogenetic S.A., a joint
venture between Fundacion Chile (Santiago, Chile) and InterLink
Associates Inc., (Princeton, NJ) announced today the creation of
a new venture for the development of improved forestry species
using the tools of biotechnology. GenFor S.A., a joint venture
with Silvagen Inc. (Vancouver, BC), will provide the forestry
industry in Chile and Latin America with a comprehensive array of
technologies for genetic improvement.

With an initial investment of $5 million partially supported by
the Chilean development agency Corfo, GenFor is in a position to
develop products and services such as: clonal development
programs on a commercial scale using Silvagen's proprietary
technology of somatic embryogenesis, consulting services in
genetic improvement including molecular markers programs,
management of genetic resources and access to genetic engineering
technologies for the development of transgenic radiata pine with
improved production and wood quality characteristics. Silvagen
has already established a successful program using its
proprietary somatic embryogenesis technology with the Chilean
forestry company Bioforest, a subsidiary of Forestal Arauco.

A significant number of clonal lines will undergo field testing
starting next year. Negotiations for collaborations with other
Chilean forestry groups, will be carried out by GenFor. GenFor
plans to actively pursue its research and development activities
for the development of improved radiata pine using the tools of
biotechnology. The first field test of transgenic radiata pine in
Chile will be established shortly.

GenFor is presently developing in cooperation with the Forest
Research Institute of New Zealand and other research groups and
biotechnology providers transgenic pines resistant to the
European shoot moth, an insect pest of great economic importance
for the Chilean forestry industry. This new product will have a
significant economic impact in the sector as well as a
significant reduction in the use of chemical insecticides that
are presently used to control the pest. The first transgenic pine
trees resistant to the European shoot moth will be tested in the
year 2000. Other projects involving genetic engineering of
radiata pine being carried on by GenFor include resistance to
fungal diseases, manipulation of cellulose and lignin content and
other wood quality characteristics.

Fundacion Chile, based in Santiago, Chile is the most important
Chilean organization involved in technology transfer and
technology development. Fundacion Chile is involved in the
development of innovative business and projects by transferring
technologies for the better utilization of Chile's natural
resources and productive capabilities. Fundacion Chile's
activities involve providing technology services, processes and
product improvement, project evaluation, training and extension
services. 



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