Monsanto officials have dedicated a new, state-of-the-art, cotton molecular breeding facility at the Monsanto Agronomy Center near Leland, Miss.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; state Sen. Neely Carlton, D-Greenville; and Al Rankin, chairman of the Washington County, Miss., Board of Supervisors, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 10,000 square-foot facility.

Monsanto officials said the new Genomics Research Center and Greenhouse Complex would serve as the hub of Monsanto's dedicated field and greenhouse programs supporting cotton research.

“This new facility will greatly enhance our ability to pursue an aggressive timeline for the commercial launch of new biotechnology-improved cotton seed,” said Fred Perlak, director of cotton technology for Monsanto. “We expect these new seeds to provide growers in Mississippi and elsewhere with cost-effective production tools and numerous environmental benefits.”

Perlak said Monsanto has a rich history of research, development and commerce in Mississippi. The first biotech insect-tolerant cotton developed by Monsanto was tested at the USDA Agricultural Research Service complex at Mississippi State University.

Perlak said the Monsanto Leland Center, a key research facility in the Mississippi Delta for Monsanto, will have 10 scientists and dozens of support personnel when it opens in September. “These 10 scientists will be backed up by another 10 to 15 scientists working at Monsanto's research facilities in St. Louis.

“Today, you see steel, glass and concrete before you, but, to us, this represents a key ingredient in our quest to bring new biotechnology products with even greater benefits to farmers,” he said.

Cochran said he appreciated the role that Monsanto had performed in bringing increased technology to Mississippi farms.

“We also are grateful for the new jobs that this facility represents,” he noted. “We think you and your employees make a great addition to the Delta.”