DuPont Joint Venture with Chinese Biotech Firm Strengthens Gene Discovery Research Efforts
News Dec 04, 2007
DuPont and Beijing Weiming Kaituo Agriculture Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (BWK) has announced the formation of a joint venture to accelerate the discovery of genes for high value agronomic traits such as stress tolerance and efficient nutrient utilization to improve the performance of important crops for farmers in China and throughout the world.
For DuPont, this marks another step toward the globalization of its R&D capabilities to accelerate new product launches and drive business growth for its worldwide seed business, Pioneer Hi-Bred. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Novel trait combinations that provide plants with genetic solutions to successfully confront the challenges of water and nutrient deficiencies and cope with unfavorable wind and temperature extremes resonate with every farmer I've ever worked with," said Bill Niebur, DuPont vice president, Crop Genetics Research and Development.
"This new joint venture brings together industry- leading biotechnology researchers to develop enabling technologies and discover new genes for important agronomic traits that can further improve farmer productivity and profitability globally. BWK's strengths in functional genomics and molecular breeding will make a major impact across our entire product pipeline."
Peking University and its affiliate, Peking University Weiming Biotech Group Co., Ltd., are significant participants in the joint venture through an ownership stake in BWK.
"We are excited to work with DuPont to advance research of important agronomic traits for improving agricultural crop production," said Dr. Zhihong Xu, president of Peking University. "Through this joint venture, we will be able to expand our world-class research efforts to benefit farmers in China and around the world."
The joint venture will be managed by Dr. James H. Zhou, former chief executive officer of BWK. Dr. Guihua Lu of DuPont Crop Genetics has been appointed as deputy general manager and technology manager.
"China has emphasized that its growth efforts need to place a greater emphasis on sustainability and the environment," said Douglas Muzyka, president of DuPont Greater China and Du Pont China Holding Co., Ltd. "Clearly, DuPont's core values and global strategies for growth align with China's vision to develop its agricultural sector and overall economy. This research-focused joint venture will allow us to develop more sustainable technologies to address the global challenges of improving agricultural economics -- enhancing farmers' quality of life and securing the world's food supply on a decreasing amount of cultivatable land."
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.