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2-Plants: Japan Tobacco and Zeneca announce joint venture in rice biotechnology

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TITLE:  Japan tobacco and Zeneca to form a joint venture in rice
SOURCE: Press Release, sent by AGNET, Canada
DATE:   June 21, 1999

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TOKYO -- Japan Tobacco Inc. and Zeneca Agrochemicals announced
today that they have signed an agreement to form a 50:50 joint
venture in rice biotechnology which will bring together the
expertise and technological strengths of both parties to research
and then develop new rice varieties. The venture is scheduled to
be established later this year with 100 million yen capital.

The research program, which will be based in Shizuoka, Japan,
will have close links with Zeneca's agricultural research centres
at Jealott's Hill (UK), Leiden (NL) and John Innes Centre at
Norwich (UK). Research will focus on improved quality and yield
as well as on input traits such as disease and insect resistance.
A separate joint venture will be set up to commercialise
inventions from the research program. Japan Tobacco has
experience in research and development of rice biotechnology
including Agrobacterium-mediated gene transformation, transgenic
low-glutelin rice and inbred rice varieties. Zeneca's principal
research targets in agricultural biotechnology are the major
cereals - maize, wheat and rice. These drive global food
production and represent around 60 per cent of the projected
world biotechnology market.

Dr Tomoaki Kubo, Senior Vice President, Japan Tobacco Inc., said:
"Zeneca is a leading bioscience company which has already
successfully launched a genetically modified food. This
collaboration strengthens the position of Japan Tobacco's
advanced rice research and is a first step towards developing
rice varieties through the application of biotechnology. Together
Japan Tobacco and Zeneca expect to be leaders in the field." Dr
David Evans, Research and Development Director, Zeneca
Agrochemicals, said: "Japan Tobacco's expertise in rice
biotechnology coupled with Zeneca's skill in bioscience will
result in a global centre of research excellence. The work done
in rice biotechnology will also contribute to Zeneca's research
in other cereal crops such as maize and wheat."

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