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BUSINESS & SEEDS: Bayer CropScience and Evogene achieve milestone in wheat genetics research



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   BAYER CROPSCIENCE AND EVOGENE ACHIEVE MILESTONE IN WHEAT GENETICS RESEARCH

SOURCE:  Bayer CropScience, Germany

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.bayercropscience.com/bcsweb/cropprotection.nsf/id/EN_20110926?open&l=EN&ccm=500020

DATE:    26.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Bayer CropScience AG and Evogene Ltd. have reached a milestone in their joint research collaboration in wheat. Utilizing Evogene?s proprietary tools, more than 200,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms across the wheat genome were identified as part of the companies? efforts to improve wheat through the application of advanced breeding techniques. SNPs are single-nucleotide substitutions of one base in the genome and a powerful type of molecular marker for traits improvement. Identifying SNPs across the wheat genome is an essential step towards improving desired traits in wheat through advanced breeding."

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BAYER CROPSCIENCE AND EVOGENE ACHIEVE MILESTONE IN WHEAT GENETICS RESEARCH

Monheim, September 26, 2011 ? Bayer CropScience AG and Evogene Ltd. have reached a milestone in their joint research collaboration in wheat. Utilizing Evogene?s proprietary tools, more than 200,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (?SNPs?) across the wheat genome were identified as part of the companies? efforts to improve wheat through the application of advanced breeding techniques.

SNPs are single-nucleotide substitutions of one base in the genome and a powerful type of molecular marker for traits improvement. Identifying SNPs across the wheat genome is an essential step towards improving desired traits in wheat through advanced breeding. The wheat genome is both complex and very large ? approximately five times the size of the human genome ? which creates a major challenge for breeders in implementing advanced breeding techniques. The identification of a significant number of SNP markers improves the overall understanding of the wheat genome, and therefore facilitates the utilization of this knowledge to deliver desirable improvements in wheat.

In December, 2010, Bayer CropScience and Evogene entered into a five-year collaboration aimed at accelerating the development and introduction of improved wheat varieties. The collaboration is focusing on improving wheat yield, drought tolerance and fertilizer use efficiency.

The successful creation of the genome-wide SNP dataset for wheat was enabled by the use of Evogene?s proprietary assembly tools and algorithms for highly reliable SNP identification, designed specifically for the wheat genome. Furthermore, the dataset was obtained from a broad collection of wheat lines from multiple locations world-wide. This dataset is being integrated into Evogene?s EvoBreed technology platform to broaden and accelerate the implementation of advanced breeding approaches for wheat.

?We want to improve wheat to tackle issues like climate change and the decline of mineral resources used for fertilizer,? said Mathias Kremer, Head of the BioScience business group of Bayer CropScience. ?This research milestone is an important step towards that goal, and will enable Bayer CropScience to deliver improved wheat varieties to growers sooner.?

Ofer Haviv, Evogene?s President & Chief Executive Officer stated: ?We are very proud of this technological breakthrough, which we achieved in a relatively short period. The identification of the SNPs is a key to enhancing native traits utilizing genomics-guided, efficient and precise breeding tools. Our newly-discovered SNP dataset significantly expands our understanding of the wheat genome, which we anticipate will facilitate our joint work with Bayer CropScience to introduce improved wheat varieties.?

About Bayer CropScience

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of healthcare, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 6.830 billion (2010), is one of the world?s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 20,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.press.bayercropscience.com.

About Evogene

Evogene is a world leading developer of improved plant traits, such as yield and drought tolerance, for a wide diversity of key crops through the use of plant genomics. The company focuses on utilizing its proprietary computational genomic technologies to provide a complete solution for plant trait improvement through combining state of the art biotechnology and advanced breeding methods. These technologies include ATHLETE for gene discovery; Gene2Product for improving trait efficacy and probability of successful development of biotechnology seed products; and EvoBreed for breeding enhancement. Evogene?s plant genomics capabilities combine high throughput plant validation systems, field experiments and proprietary genomic data creation. Evogene is collaborating with world leading seed companies to introduce its improved plant traits into key commercial crops under milestone and royalty bearing agreements. Evogene?s headquarters are in Rehovot, Israel, and its stock is traded 
 on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. For additional information, please visit Evogene?s website at www.evogene.com.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   KENDALL URGES INDUSTRY TO PROMOTE GM WHEAT BENEFITS

SOURCE:  Farmers Guardian, UK

AUTHOR:  Alistair Driver

URL:     http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/latest-news/kendall-urges-industry-to-promote-gm-wheat-benefits/41737.article

DATE:    22.09.2011

SUMMARY: "NFU president Peter Kendall has urged the farming industry to go out and promote the potentially ?phenomenal? benefits of genetically modified wheat to consumers. [...] ?They are making the wheat smell of peppermint to resist aphids as the wheat is about to be harvested. If we told that story, people would go ?wow, that?s great!? We have got to collectively work on the positives, which could be phenomenal if you look at this example,? he said. He urged GM activists ?not to trash the trials? but to let them demonstrate what the wheat can do."

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KENDALL URGES INDUSTRY TO PROMOTE GM WHEAT BENEFITS

NFU president Peter Kendall has urged the farming industry to go out and promote the potentially ?phenomenal? benefits of genetically modified (GM) wheat to consumers.

Mr Kendall has welcomed the decision by Defra to approve a two-year trial of aphid resistant GM wheat, starting next spring at the Rothamsted Research Institute, in Hertfordshire.

But he acknowledged that in order for farmers realise the potential benefits of the research, the industry needs to explain them to the public to counter the inevitable ?negatives? that would appear in the media about the trial.

?They are making the wheat smell of peppermint to resist aphids as the wheat is about to be harvested. If we told that story, people would go ?wow, that?s great!? We have got to collectively work on the positives, which could be phenomenal if you look at this example,? he said.

He urged GM activists ?not to trash the trials? but to let them demonstrate what the wheat can do.

?We need to have the trials and then see if consumers want to buy it because, as farmer, I am never going to sell something people don?t want to buy,? he told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference.

Lib Dem MP Roger Williams also endorsed Defra?s decision to sanction the trial. He said he was happy to advocate GM technology as long as individual applications are properly tested for their impact on human health and the environment.

?This would be a trial of a crop that is resistant to aphids so would result in a reduction in herbicide application. That is important not only in maintaining the environment but also in reducing costs,? he said.

Explaining the experiment last week, Rothamsted director Maurice Moloney, said the new variety could generate significant economic benefits for farmers by repelling aphids, which can cause ?devastating? crop damage and hit farm livelihoods.

He said Rothamsted scientists have produced wheat plants, modified to copy plants like mint and hops, which protect themselves with a natural molecule that repels, but does not kill, aphids.

He said they were testing whether this ?natural mode of defence? will work under field conditions. ?This method not only helps to control aphids, but does so in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way without having to use pesticides,? he said.

But Pete Riley of GM Freeze condemned the trial a ?big mistake?. ?The key question Ministers need to answer is why they are funding research into GM wheat for which there is no market in the UK, Europe or anywhere else,? he said.

He added ACRE?s authorisation letter showed it had concerns about the possibility of the GM wheat crossing with arable weed couch grass and about wild birds carrying the GM seeds off site.