Seed World

Industry News – December 2014


Industry News is geared to seed professionals and delivers the people, industry, business and product news you need to know. Submissions are welcome. Email us at·

People News

Monsanto Company has expanded the leadership role of executive Brett Begemann in the company’s global commercial operations. Begemann’s new title is president and chief operating officer. A member of Monsanto since 1983, he was previously president and chief commercial officer. In addition to continuing to oversee Monsanto’s worldwide sales and operations, Begemann will also oversee corporate affairs.

Cibus Global, a pioneering plant trait development firm, has announced that Keith Walker has been appointed CEO and president. Walker has held the position of president since the company was founded in 2001 and has led Cibus in significantly expanding its San Diego research facility.

Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. has announced new additions to its senior staff. Carlos Reyes has been promoted to vice president of product development. Previously, Reyes was director of global field development with Suterra. Jim Lappin joins MBI as vice president of product management and business development. Lappin brings more than 30 years of crop protection industry experience. Kristie Jones has been appointed vice president of marketing and has been providing consulting services to MBI since 2011. Yuko Soneoka has been hired as chief patent counsel. She previously was senior corporate counsel and director of intellectual property at Genomic Health Inc.

Bayer CropScience has appointed three new members to its executive committee. Effective Jan. 1, the company’s management team will include Marc Reichardt as head of agricultural commercial operations, Bernd Naaf as head of business management and labor director, and Dirk Backhaus as head of product supply. Current head of agricultural commercial operations Lykele van der Broek will continue to oversee the further implementation of Bayer’s market strategy until his planned retirement in mid-2014 when Reichardt will assume the role.

Incotec has announced further appointments to its growing organization in the North American vegetable seed business. Steve Adams has been appointed account manager for AgriCoat LLC. Adams will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities at AgriCoat. Brad Kortsen has been appointed to the position of new product and business development manager. Korsten will focus full-time on customer solutions for Incotec vegetable as well as AgriCoat.

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds has named Tom Lizer as the company’s new general manager. Lizer will be responsible for growing the company’s overall sales organization, building its dealer network, and improving efficiencies throughout the organization. Lizer has 34 years of seed industry experience, 19 of which were spent with Kruger Seeds.

Hoegemeyer Hybrids has announced the addition of Lance Livingston and Nate Gutzmann to its staff. Livingston was appointed as a retail account manager and will work exclusively with Farmer’s Cooperative Co. to provide Hoegemeyer sales and product support to the agronomy team. Gutzmann was appointed district sales manager and is responsible for the recruitment of new accounts, along with managing current accounts in northeast Nebraska.

Product News

Elsevier, a leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, has announced the release of Pathway Studio Web Plant. According to the company, this web-based research solution helps plant scientists explore breeding through trait analysis, and enables them to make more informed decisions at critical stages of crop production and protection research. “Pathway Studio Plant is an important technology to advance research on crop breeding and sustainability,” says Jaqui Hodgkinson, vice president of product development at Elsevier.

DuPont Pioneer is expanding the availability of 40 Pioneer brand T Series soybean varieties for 2014 planting. The broad range of high-yielding varieties have been targeted to meet specific grower needs and matched to local environments. “Growers are asking for soybeans that will maximize yield in conditions and challenges specific to their fields,” says André Trépanier, DuPont Pioneer senior marketing manager of soybeans. “In Nebraska, the Dakotas and into Canada, available varieties provide growers protection against iron chlorosis and soybean cyst nematode.” As final product advancements are made this fall, additional varieties will join the lineup for 2014 planting.

Business News

Mendel Biotechnology Inc., a leading agricultural discovery company, intends to sell its operating subsidiary, Mendel Plant Sciences. MBI will continue to operate its royalty-based, biotech trait business developed primarily in collaboration with Monsanto. The separation of the two distinct businesses will enable each to maximize their respective value. MBI has engaged Kirchner Group to advise the board and lead the acquisition process. Interested parties should contact Kirchner Group.

KeyGene and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center have announced a collaboration to strengthen the plant imaging capabilities at the newly-built Bellwether Phenotyping Facility at the Danforth Center in St. Louis, Mo. This technology increases the pace of scientific discovery, as well as applications that impact agricultural productivity. “This collaboration will be critical to bringing our new phenotyping facility into full production mode quickly. KeyGene has vast expertise and analytical tools that our scientists will be using to get the most value out of their high-throughput experiments using both model plants and crops,” says Danforth Center President Jim Carrington.

Evogene Ltd. has announced a three-year extension of its research collaboration with Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. The collaboration was established to identify plant genes providing resistance to soybean cyst nematode. The three-year extension follows successful results obtained by Syngenta for candidate genes that have demonstrated reduced nematode infection and have advanced to further testing in Syngenta’s soybean pipeline. Evogene Ltd. has also announced the extension and expansion of its multi-year research collaboration with DuPont Pioneer for developing soybean varieties displaying resistance to Asian soybean rust. Under the one-year extension, the parties will add Evogene’s Gene2Product computational platform to the gene discovery program. The platform is designed to improve the efficacy and probability of success of the resulting novel seed products.

Synpromics, a U.K.-based synthetic promoter company, has announced its collaboration with Dow AgroSciences to develop Synpromics’ proprietary technology for application in plant science. An initial proof-of-concept project with Dow AgroSciences has begun to demonstrate the application of Synpromics’ synthetic promoter technology in certain crops. “Technologies developed by Synpromics can significantly enhance the company’s tool kit for developing improved crops,” says Daniel Kittle, vice president of research and development at Dow AgroSciences. “Synthetic promoters in the agricultural industry have significant potential to accelerate gene discovery and product development of new traits.”

Industry News

To quantify the impact of genetic improvement on wheat, disease and climate change over a 26-year period, a team of Kansas State University researchers examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, along with location-specific weather and disease data. Their study showed that from 1985 through 2011, wheat breeding programs boosted average wheat yields by 13 bushels per acre, or 0.51 bushels each year, for a total increase of 26 percent. Researchers say it’s the first study to quantify all impacts (climate change, disease and genetic
improvement) using a unique data set and state-of-the-art statistical methods.

Calling the Germplasm Enhancement Maize project a “model for future public-private research endeavors” and citing its vital role in ensuring the stability of the corn industry worldwide, the American Seed Trade Association issued a statement honoring those who have contributed to its 20 years of success. “The collaborative work of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, our public universities and private seed companies have been invaluable in releasing publicly many unique corn inbred lines capable of contributing genetics to combat diseases and pests,” says ASTA president and CEO Andy LaVigne.

Purdue University’s College of Agriculture will receive more than $20 million in funding for plant sciences research and education to strengthen the institution’s leadership in developing new and novel ways to help feed a rapidly-growing world population. The investment will include enhancing the college’s ability to move research discoveries into commercially important crops with development of a plant transformation facility; building high-speed, large-scale capabilities to assess crop characteristics and performance through automated field phenotyping; and establishing a plant commercialization incubator facility to create opportunities for the plant sciences faculty to move its ideas to the farm and marketplace through commercialization and licensing arrangements.

Biologists from Indiana University Bloomington led by David Kehoe have shown for the first time that a protein long known to be critical for the initiation of protein synthesis in all organisms also plays a role in the regulation of gene expression. The protein, called translation initiation factor 3, or IF3, is one of three proteins that make up the core structure needed to guide the joining of messenger RNAs and ribosomes as protein translation begins. “We found that IF3 families exist in a number of plant species, including commercially important crops. This means that new approaches to the modification of traits in agricultural plant species may be possible by manipulating the expression patterns of different IF3 family members,” says Kehoe.

DeKalb has rolled out a new interactive website that allows farmers across the United States to learn more about how the company`s global breeding program impacts their farms. The new website, breedingHQ, focuses on breeding innovation and advancements in an effort to help farmers maximize yield potential. The website hosts information dedicated to corn breeding, including year-round genetic research, corn seed testing, and a variety of videos highlighting the technology in action. Farmers can also navigate through breeder profiles, fun facts, breeding locations and other site features. To learn more visit,

BASF has launched a new mobile platform,, for U.S.-based crop protection products. This platform gives BASF customers and employees access to company and product information for use on all tablet and smartphone models. The new website features full access to all BASF crop protection product information, including relevant product labels and material safety data sheets. The product section gives customers an A to Z listing of the BASF product portfolio. Each product listing features information on how it works, labeled crops, problems controlled and a research library.