SOURCE: Devgen

February 07, 2007 01:44 ET

Devgen moves ahead in its rice business plan, appoints management and senior advisor for its rice unit

GENT-ZWIJNAARDE, BELGIUM -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 7, 2007 --


Gent, February 7, 2007 - Devgen's proprietary biotech and breeding technology, combined with the recently announced agreements with Monsanto, opens up new avenues for Devgen and makes it well positioned to head the transition towards a new generation of rice technology.

The recently announced technology exchange agreement with Monsanto will give Devgen access to Monsanto's technology for rice trait [1]development. Together with its own proprietary biotech and breeding technology, this allows Devgen to lay a sound foundation for value creation in this world crop.

Over the last two years Devgen has been building its "accelerated rice breeding" strategy to develop proprietary germplasm[2]. It has established two breeding stations in Kenya and has successfully completed the first year of breeding trials in 2006.

In 2007 Devgen intends to expand its breeding base to India and make significant investment in its classical and molecular breeding programs infrastructure. Devgen's goal is to develop proprietary hybrids, adapted to Indian market requirements that retain the yield increase expected by the farmer when he purchases hybrid seed and that will be the vehicle for Devgen's biotech traits. In the longer term, Devgen wants to become a provider of both traits and seeds in order to maximally capture value through seed sales.

The company expects that the available cash and the revenues from Monsanto will be sufficient to fund the existing research programs and this expanded program at least for the following 18-24 months. Devgen expects that on an annual basis it will receive approximately 50% more in research payments from Monsanto compared with payments received from Monsanto under the previous R&D agreement (excluding R&D milestones, product milestones and royalties).

Undoubtedly, a key value driver in the deal with Monsanto is the access that Devgen has to the sizable technology investments that Monsanto has been making over the last couple of years for use in its own rice program.

The company will evaluate the funding needs related to this component of the agreement.

To implement this business plan, Devgen has appointed Dr. John Mann as head of rice breeding and Dr. Gurdev Khush as senior advisor.

"We are honoured to be able to benefit of Dr. Khush's guidance and commitment" says Dr. Robert Ackerson, Devgen Head of R&D. "In tandem with Dr. Mann, a successful hybrid rice breeder and developer of hybrid rice technology, their expertise is combined to develop a new generation of hybrid rice, meeting the Indian farmer's needs".

About Dr. Gurdev Khush

Dr. Khush, laureate of the World Food Prize (1996), is one of the world's authorities on crop breeding and is considered one of the heroes of the Green Revolution in plant breeding. After receiving his education at the Punjab Agricultural University and the University of California-Davis, he joined the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines where he served as the Head of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biochemistry Division until 2002. Dr. Khush led the institute's rice breeding program and developed some of the most widely planted food crop varieties the world has ever known. About 11 million ha were planted with his variety IR36 worldwide in the 1980s, a success which Dr. Khush topped with IR64 and again with IR72, the world's highest yielding rice variety in 1990.

Dr. Khush, has been honored with numerous awards and honors including the Japan Prize (1987), the Rank Prize (1998), the Wolf Prize (2000), the International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award from Government from Government of China (2001) and the Padmashri award from the president of India (2001).

Dr. Khush has served as a consultant on rice for the breeding programs of 15 countries and he is now serving as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to India's Department of Biotechnology and the Science Council, an advisory body to Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing.

About Dr. John Mann

Dr. John Mann is a successful research manager and plant breeder with over 35 years of experience. The last 19 years he has been involved in the development of rice hybrids in the US, Latin America, Africa and Asia, He started the hybrid rice efforts at RiceTec Inc. and managed those efforts for 16 years. Hybrids developed under his leadership now occupy a significant portion of US rice production area, and are increasing in area in Brasil and other South American countries. The past three years he has been involved in consulting in rice production, and has started a breeding company in Kenya which is focused on the rapid development of parent lines for hybrid rice.

Dr. Mann's experience in hybrid rice extends to more than 20 countries. His broad international experience in breeding and specifically hybrid rice breeding places him in a position to make immediate contributions to Devgen's efforts in India.

Conference call and webcast

Devgen will conduct a conference call on Wednesday February 7, 2007 at 10h30 am which will also be simultaneously broadcast via internet. The event is open to the public and is accessible via www.devgen.com and via telephone at +32 (0)2 290 14 07. To ask questions during the Q&A session, please join the event via telephone 10 minutes prior to the start of the conference call. A recording of the event will also be made available at www.devgen.com shortly after the call.

About Devgen

Devgen is an innovator in biotechnology focused on discovering, developing and commercializing:

- a novel generation of biotech products to protect a wide spectrum of crops from damage incurred from pests;

- safer and more environmentally friendly agro-chemical products to protect crops from damage inflicted by plant parasitic nematodes;

- novel therapeutic concepts and preclinical drug candidates for treatment of metabolic disease (diabetes, obesity, arrhythmia) and inflammation.

Each of these solutions is developed on a platform of in- house designed research, development programs and technologies. Devgen has partnerships with industry leaders in biotechnology and agro chemistry. Incorporated in 1997, Devgen has offices in Ghent (Belgium) and Singapore, with a total work force of over 100 people.

For more information, please contact:

Thierry Bogaert, CEO
+32 9 324 24 24
thierry.bogaert@devgen.com

Hilde Windels, CFO
+32 9 324 24 24
hilde.windels@devgen.com
[1] Trait: plant characteristic that improves its growth, resistance to pests, nutrient content or the like.

[2] Plant germplasm is the genetic material of a plant in the form of seed or grafting/cutting material

Copyright © Hugin ASA 2007. All rights reserved.

Contact Information