GENET archive


Plant: Monsanto, Solae make healthier beans

                                  PART 1

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AUTHOR: The Associated Press, by Christopher Leonard


DATE:   07.03.2007

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Monsanto Co. announced a partnership Wednesday with one of its rivals to develop new soybean products that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

The partnership with Solae Co. will speed research programs at both companies to develop a healthier soybean oil, according to the firms. Solae is majority owned by Monsanto’s competitor DuPont Co., based in Wilmington, Del.

Solae and Monsanto are based in St. Louis.

Omega-3 fatty acids typically are found in fish oils, plant oils and eggs. Monsanto has been working for years to genetically engineer soybean plants to boost levels of the oil; it hopes to have strains on the market by 2010, spokesman Chris Horner said.

While Monsanto has been working to develop the actual beans, Solae specializes in making soy-based food additives that could put the new product in everything from cereal to yogurt or soft drinks, Solae President and Chief Executive Tony Arnold said.

”Now it’s a matter of how do you take the Omega-3s and put it into various food applications,” Arnold said.

Consumers are demanding healthier oils in their processed foods as more research indicates that some current ingredients are unhealthy. A particular concern has been hydrogenated soybean oil, which is processed to have a longer shelf life.

Solae estimates that the market for products with Omega-3 fatty acids could grow to as much as $7 billion by 2011.

Horner said Monsanto’s Omega-3 rich beans are part of the company’s larger effort to develop crops that have a direct benefit for consumers. Most of Monsanto’s seeds in the past have been developed with the farmer in mind, containing genes that make them resistant to pests or herbicides.

Neither Monsanto nor Solae could say when consumers will see the first products from their partnership.

Arnold said the companies will share research and likely share patents on any new products that are developed from the venture.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA

AUTHOR: Rachel Melcer


DATE:   08.03.2007

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A pair of local companies are developing omega-3 enriched soybeans that they hope will have consumers not just accepting, but demanding, biotech food.

Monsanto Co. and Solae Co. said Wednesday that they are teaming up to produce the first genetically modified food product with a benefit for consumers, rather than farmers. So far, all GM crops are designed to survive pests or herbicides.

The omega-3 enriched products, ranging from cooking oils and baked goods to mayonnaise and processed meats, could be on store shelves early next decade.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve heart health and decrease the risk of death from irregular heartbeats. Americans consume just one-fifth of the amount of certain omega-3 acids recommended by the American Heart Association.

”This is an opportunity where we can … excite consumers to understand the benefits of biotechnology in general,” said Tony Arnold, president and chief executive of Solae, a joint venture of DuPont and Bunge Limited that has its headquarters in St. Louis.

”We think there are health benefits that would outweigh the risks that have never been proven, but that some people believe exist” to eating genetically modified food, he said.

Most consumers have little understanding of genetically modified crops and their presence in the food chain, according to research by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a University of Richmond project supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts that neither advocates for nor against agricultural biotechnology.

Sixty percent of American consumers believe they have never eaten GM foods, while 26 percent say they have, according to a November Pew study. But most — if not all — have, given that more than 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop and more than 60 percent of field corn is genetically modified.

Monsanto, based in Creve Coeur, produces the bulk of those GM crops.

”Ingredients from biotech crops are ubiquitous in our food supply now,” said Michael Fernandez, executive director of the Pew initiative. But these appear in packaged foods in indirect ways, through corn syrup, soybean oils and other ingredients.

Omega-3 enriched items, however, will tout their added benefits to consumers, said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of Monsanto. ”The food company is going to want to market that they’ve got this high-quality omega-3 in their (products).”

That is likely to bring consumer acceptance of GM food to the fore.

In Europe, many consumers and activist groups have rejected what they call ”frankenfood,” leading to government bans on the import of most GM crops. In the United States, there is a growing organic movement and demand for products perceived as being healthier — but Pew research indicates many people are on the fence about GM food.

Since 2001, when Pew began asking people if they oppose or favor the introduction of GM food, about 26 percent have steadily supported it; opposition has dropped from 58 percent in 2001 to 46 percent in 2006.

”How the next generation of biotech products is introduced — and their perceived benefits and risks — will be critical in solidifying U.S. consumer attitudes,” wrote the Mellman Group, a research firm that conducted the November study for Pew.

The product being co-developed by Monsanto and Solae appears to be the first in a pipeline of ”next-generation” GM foods — those created to confer a benefit to consumers.

Monsanto separately is developing GM soybeans that would produce cooking oil with health benefits similar to olive oil, which increases ”good” HDL cholesterol levels without raising ”bad” LDL cholesterol. These also are targeted for commercial use in the next decade.

Partnering with Solae makes sense for the biotech giant.

Monsanto is an expert in dealing with farmers, while Solae has long-standing relationships with food companies.

Solae also knows how to formulate soybean-based products so that they work in recipes for packaged goods. In this case, Solae is developing technology to give the omega-3 enhanced soybean oil a longer shelf life. Without that measure, the oil could oxidize and develop a fishy smell, Arnold said.

Solae’s relationships also are key to gaining acceptance of the product. Packaged food companies and restaurant chains have balked at the prospect of GM wheat and potatoes, so none has been commercialized.

”The food companies have, in some ways, become a gatekeeper,” Fernandez said. ”They are ultimately responsible to their customers, so they are acutely aware of what their customers are interested in, concerned about, what they’re looking for and what they’re looking to avoid.”

A spokesman for the industry trade group GMA/FPA, which represents food, beverage and packaged consumer goods producers, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Monsanto and Solae hope their products will appeal to consumers’ growing health consciousness. They cite market research that says sales of omega-3 infused foods — which now draw on fish and flaxseed sources — will grow at a 60 percent compound annual rate from 2002 to 2011. That could outstrip supply and threaten fish stocks, Solae noted.

The primary source of omega-3 in the diet is fish — which get the nutrient by consuming algae. Algae also is the source of the genetic trait that Monsanto will add to its GM soybeans.

                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: Monsanto, USA

AUTHOR: Press release


DATE:   07.03.2007

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ST. LOUIS, March 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Monsanto and The Solae Company today announced an agreement to develop and market Omega-3 products for a rapidly growing market that industry experts predict could grow to as much as $7 billion by 2011. The agreement combines each company’s unique strengths to deliver innovation to consumers.

The collaboration brings together research that Monsanto and The Solae Company, together with its majority owner, DuPont, have been conducting independently on soybeans containing high levels of Omega-3s, as well as Solae’s work on stabilizing oil for food applications. The companies are committed to collaborating in the development of Omega-3 products, which will be marketed through Solae.

”There is a need to develop new solutions for delivering Omega-3 fatty acids in a wider variety of consumer products,” said Tony Arnold, president and chief executive officer of The Solae Company. ”Our goal is to accelerate the creation of a convenient, affordable and sustainable source of Omega-3 ingredients.”

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. Consumer demand for these nutrients is growing as research continues to show diets rich in Omega-3s play an important role in maintaining health, including heart health.

The actual consumption of Omega-3s by humans is much lower than the recommendations of health associations all over the world. In the United States, consumption of long-chain Omega-3s is only one-fifth of American Heart Association recommendations.

Market researchers have projected sales of Omega-3-infused foods will grow at a 60 percent compounded annual rate from 2002 to 2011, prompting concerns that demand could soon outstrip supply and threaten fish stocks. This collaboration seeks to cultivate a new, more sustainable source of Omega-3 products that can be used as ingredients in many different food applications.

”Soybeans represent a renewable, land-based source of Omega-3s,” said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of Monsanto. ”We believe this collaboration will allow us to bring to market a variety of sustainable Omega- 3 ingredients that will nutritionally enhance foods that consumers already enjoy. We’re excited about the possibilities.”

About the Companies

The Solae Company advances global nutrition through food ingredient innovation. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion, the company is a DuPont (NYSE: DD) majority-owned joint venture with Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG). For more information, visit .

Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) is a leading global provider of technology- based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information on Monsanto, visit .

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains ”forward-looking statements” which reflect the companies’ current expectations about future performance. These forward- looking statements rely on a number of assumptions and estimates which could be inaccurate and which are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could vary materially from those anticipated or expressed in any forward-looking statement made by the companies due to a number of factors, including without limitation technological uncertainties facing the companies, continued competition in the companies’ businesses; the companies’ exposure to various contingencies, including those related to intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance and the speed with which approvals are received, and public acceptance of biotechnology products; the success of the companies’ research and development activities; compliance with regulations affecting manufacturing; and the effect of weather conditions, natural disasters and accidents on the agriculture business or facilities. Additional risks and factors related to Monsanto are detailed in Monsanto’s filings with the SEC. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which are current only as of the date of this release. The Solae Company and Monsanto disclaim any obligation or intent to update the forward- looking statements in order to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company; The Solae Company

CONTACT: Christopher Horner, Monsanto Company, +1-314-694-4190, or? ; or Andrew Shea, The Solae Company,?+1-314-659-3379, or

Web site:

Company News On-Call:

                                  PART 4

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AUTHOR: The Associated Press, by Christopher S. Rugaber


DATE:   07.03.2007

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Democratic senators criticized the Bush administration Wednesday for what they consider to be lax enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws, urging extra scrutiny of specific merger proposals in the airline and agriculture industries.

Sen. Herbert H. Kohl, D-Wis., said there is ”an alarming decline” in the Justice Department’s ”antitrust enforcement efforts across the board, particularly with respect to mergers.”

Investigations of proposed mergers by Justice’s antitrust division have declined 60 percent in the past four years, compared to the final four years of the Clinton administration, Kohl said during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights.

Congressional Democrats have vowed in recent weeks to step up their scrutiny of antitrust enforcement. Kohl charged that the administration’s ”hands-off approach” has encouraged consolidation in a range of industries and hurt consumers by reducing competition.

”There’s been far too little oversight of the two antitrust agencies over the past six years,” said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., referring to Justice’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission.

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has set up its own antitrust task force.

It’s first hearing on Feb. 28 focused on the proposed merger of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.

Kohl, who chairs the subcommittee, and other senators, criticized the Justice Department’s approval of Whirlpool Corp.’s acquisition of Maytag, which they said gave the combined a company a market share of 75 percent, and AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of Bell South.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, who heads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, rejected the senators’ criticisms. The Bush administration challenged 16 mergers in 2006, he said, requiring changes or other steps. That was the highest number in the past five years, he added.

In addition, the number of merger filings has dropped by about half since the late 1990s, he said, making comparisons to that period misleading.

Under pressure from Kohl, Barnett promised to reconsider a transaction that the Justice Department had previously approved: AirTran Holdings Inc.’s proposed purchase of Milwaukee-based Midwest Air Group Inc.

Barnett said the antitrust division would look at any information provided by Kohl and ”consider whether there is any appropriate antitrust concern there that we should pursue.”

Kohl has argued that an acquisition of Midwest by AirTran would diminish customer service and possibly lead to fewer flights from Milwaukee.

Feingold, meanwhile, urged Barnett to scrutinize Monsanto Co.’s proposed purchase of Delta & Pine Land Co., which makes cottonseeds. The transaction would reduce competition in both genetically modified and traditional seeds, Feingold said.

Monsanto agreed to purchase Scott, Miss.-based Delta & Pine Land in August for $1.5 billion in cash. Analysts estimate the deal would give Monsanto control of about 60 percent of the U.S. cottonseed market. Some of Monsanto’s competitors, such as DuPont Co., have opposed the deal.

Barnett said he could not comment on the transaction since it is still being examined by the department.

A hearing on the XM-Sirius Satellite Radio deal will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel on March 20.



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