MONSANTO Company has announced it will share important genetic information with the United Soybean Board's (USB) Technology Utilization Center. This shared data is expected to rapidly accelerate the USB's Better Bean Initiative goal of developing a soybean with improved oils and protein for U.S. producers and will provide consumers with healthier soy products in the future.

Monsanto will provide the USB with genetic sequence information on the soybean genome. In turn, the USB will provide the data to non-profit Better Bean Initiative participants funded through public resources. Future discoveries developed using these sequences will be widely distributed in the public sector and accessible to the soybean research community.

“We believe strongly in the Better Bean Initiative and its commitment to help U.S. producers maintain their competitive advantage,” said Carl Casale, vice president and general manager for Monsanto's North American agriculture business.

“For years, we have supported efforts to advance soy producers and the industry, and believe that sharing this genetic information will help American producers take advantage of new cutting-edge traits that deliver real end-user benefits.”

The USB and Monsanto believe this sequence information will help the Better Bean Initiative develop soybean varieties that can provide both healthier oils and improved protein levels for supermarket consumers.

“This information is expected to build upon our own goals and is one of the essential tools we will need to unlock the most beneficial traits within the soybean genome,” said Don Latham, chairman of the Better Bean Initiative advisory panel and immediate past chairman of the USB.

Latham said Monsanto's sequence information would have an immediate impact on the Better Bean Initiative's goal of developing the highest quality soybean for U.S. producers by reducing the time and checkoff funds necessary to achieve this goal.

“On behalf of the USB, we would like to extend our appreciation to Monsanto for its commitment to the Better Bean Initiative and its continued support of making our goals a reality for the U.S. soy producer and consumers in the future,” said Latham.

“The Better Bean Initiative serves as a great example of the positive work in which the soybean checkoff is currently engaged with the soy industry. This move by Monsanto really highlights the benefits of private — public sector technology cooperation for growers and consumers, and allows USB to further leverage checkoff dollars to benefit producers.”

Monsanto announced it will share a series of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-end sequences with USB. Scientists will use BAC-end sequences to better understand the soybean genome by identifying the location of specific genetic markers on chromosomes within a genome. By identifying genetic markers on the desired trait, plant breeders can breed plants more efficiently and more accurately.

The mission of the Better Bean Initiative is to accelerate the development and availability of soybean seed with enhanced composition traits. The USB has been working with public and private sector industry partners from the food, feed and seed industries to leverage resources and determine the most efficient way to bring these new soybean products to market.

The development of soybean seed with enhanced traits will better position U.S. soybeans to meet the needs of oil and protein end-users and improve the economic value for U.S. soybean farmers. The Better Bean Initiative also helps U.S. soybean farmers match and outpace increased competition from other soybean-producing countries, as well as other protein and vegetable oil sources.

Recently, the USB established the Technology Utilization Center to serve as a tool of the Better Bean Initiative to access, combine and provide new traits for commodity soybeans. It provides a way to bring together the public and private sectors to help achieve the overall Better Bean Initiative goals.

Monsanto Company has been a cooperator in the Better Bean Initiative since January 2000. In May 2001, the company donated a Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) genetic marker to the Better Bean Initiative. This genetic marker identifies the low palmitic fatty acid trait within the soybean genome and is expected to quickly accelerate the Better Bean Initiative's goal of developing a low saturate soybean.

Last year, Monsanto established a Website to provide access to the company's draft rice genome sequence data to public researchers and breeders at no cost. This data is currently helping over 200 researchers in the United States understand ways to improve corn, rice, and other crops.

The technology sharing announcement is the latest action to implement the New Monsanto Pledge, announced in November 2000. The New Monsanto Pledge is a series of commitments that describe the company's policies for products developed through biotechnology, including a commitment to share knowledge and technology with public institutions to benefit health and the environment.

For more information on Monsanto, see: www.monsanto.com. For more information on the United Soybean Board and the soybean checkoff, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.