Monsanto and Pairwise Plants, an agricultural start-up, have announced a collaboration to advance agriculture research and development by leveraging gene-editing technology. Under the agreement, Pairwise will work in corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and canola crops exclusively with Monsanto. The companies bring expertise and complementary intellectual property (IP) to a strategic alliance that they hope will drive new solutions to help farmers produce better harvests, protect crops from evolving threats, and conserve resources in the face of mounting environmental challenges.
Under the companies’ collaboration and licensing agreement, Monsanto would contribute $100 million to access and develop Pairwise IP in row crop applications, including an option to commercialize products resulting from the research collaboration.
Pairwise is focused on finding new ways to address global food challenges through a collective of gene-editing and agriculture thought leaders, along with access to foundational gene-editing IP. Pairwise has licensed programmable base editing technology from Harvard University and will be developing new gene-editing applications that Pairwise and Monsanto will apply in their research. Pairwise also plans to develop its own new crop varieties while collaborating with other agriculture and consumer food companies.
“My co-founders and I believe the technologies we have each been developing can have a profound impact in plant agriculture and will speed innovation that is badly needed to feed a growing population amid challenging conditions created by a changing climate,” said J. Keith Joung, Pairwise founder. “Base editing technology has the potential to have an enormous impact on the speed and precision with which plant scientists can improve crops, giving researchers the ability to make single nucleotide changes at a precise location in the genome efficiently.”