VIEW FROM THE TOP
DOW AGROSCIENCES TO EXPAND ITS TRAITS BUSINESS
Name: Ben Kaehler
Title: Traits and Germplasm Licensing Leader, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN
Education/Career: B.S. in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University. A 20-year veteran of Dow AgroSciences, he joined the company out of college as a sales rep in central Minnesota. Prior to current position, he was sales leader for Mycogen Seeds in the Plant Genetics and Biotechnology Group.
Responsibilities: Educates and promotes the adoption of traits with many seed companies.
AM: What is new in trait technology at Dow AgroSciences?
BK: Dow AgroSciences is committed to agriculture and to all the markets we serve. We're continually intro-ducing reliable, innovative solutions. Specific to traits, during 2005, we received full U.S. regulatory ap-provals for two new traits products in corn, which came on the heels of a late-2004 approval of our in-plant insect-protection trait for cotton.
AM: How are these new traits branded?
BK: Our new trait technology in corn is part of the Herculex® Insect Protection brand. Herculex RW Rootworm Protection provides powerful protection against corn rootworm. Herculex XTRA Insect Protection combines the broad-spectrum above-ground insect protection of Herculex I Insect Protection with the powerful below-ground protection against corn rootworm of Herculex RW to provide the broadest-spectrum in-plant insect protection for corn on the market today.
Additionally, we now are licensing Herculex I plus Roundup Ready® Corn 2 technology to other seed companies through a global agreement with
Monsanto. We also will offer Herculex XTRA stacked with Roundup Ready Corn 2. In cotton, we've launched WideStrike™ Insect Protection - a two-gene Bt trait - for season-long, broad-spectrum lepidopteran control. It's available to the market in PhytoGen™ cottonseed varieties. PhytoGen is a joint venture with the J.G. Boswell Company.
AM: Who is the customer ... and how are your new traits being taken to the marketplace? Why in this manner?
BK: Ultimately, our customer is the corn or cotton grower who is interested in adding the latest, most advanced in-plant insect protection technology in proven genetics to their operation. We serve these customers through our branded businesses, Mycogen Seeds and PhytoGen Seed Company, or through our licensing efforts in the corn market with more than 140 retail seed companies. Bringing these traits to market in this manner allows us to capture value on more acres through our own retail seed brands and through our licensees. Most importantly, we're maximizing options for growers.
AM: Why is Dow AgroSciences in the traits business?
BK: Dow AgroSciences has been working to develop proprietary traits for many years. In fact, we were granted patents both for the development of Bt's in plants and for glyphosate-tolerant technologies in cotton by the U.S. Patent Office. Plant Genetics and Biotechnology is one of the emerging businesses at Dow AgroSciences, offering us the opportunity to utilize plant genetics to improve the quality of life by increasing the quality and quantity of products derived from plants. Our traits licensing business is integral to this mission.
AM: Anything else about this new Dow AgroSciences business that the AgriMarketing reader would find of interest?
BK: First, we don't consider traits a new business at Dow AgroSciences. Thanks to millions of dollars and many years invested in research and development, combined with a unique ability to commercialize intellectual property, Dow AgroSciences is among the world leaders in bringing in-plant crop protection traits to market. We also have one of the world's largest libraries of Bt - more than 6,000 strains and more than 40 patents.
But the introduction of new genetic traits, such as insect or disease resistance, via biotechnology does not reduce the importance of superior germplasm in the host plant. Nor does it replace the need for plant science and plant breeding. We work to combine novel genetic traits with elite germplasm to develop crops that thrive while expressing the desired trait. Several years of market research showed that seed companies and corn and cotton growers want to diversify their trait and technology options.
Dow AgroSciences is committed to filling that need. In addition, Dow AgroSciences is applying this expertise in plant genetics to develop plant-made solutions for improved animal health and food safety. This year, Dow AgroSciences became the first company to register a plant-made vaccine - an achievement that will revolutionize the field of preventive medicine with plant-
cell-produced vaccines. AM