ST. LOUIS and BROOKINGS, S.D.
Mar 19, 2009
ST. LOUIS and BROOKINGS, S.D., March 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- South Dakota State University and Monsanto Company have entered into an agreement to create a new Ph.D. research fellowship program in plant breeding. Monsanto has committed $1 million over five years for the program. The announcement was made today at the Innovation Campus in Brookings, the only university-affiliated research park in South Dakota.
Monsanto has a well-established record of collaborating with research and breeding departments at academic institutions such as SDSU to make new discoveries that will lead to a sustainable agricultural environment for the future, said Robert Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto.
"We have been working on developing a program with SDSU for more than a year. We are thrilled to be partnering with the university and helping create and support a robust plant breeding program," Fraley said. "Breeding is one of the key pillars of the research done at Monsanto, and we want to provide the plant breeders and researchers of tomorrow with the best training and widest variety of opportunities."
In 2008, Monsanto announced an ambitious goal to double yields in its core crops of corn, cotton and soybeans by 2030 from a base year of 2000, while reducing by one-third key inputs such as water and energy per unit produced. Maintaining a strong research and development pipeline - supported by a pool of highly-trained researchers and breeders - will be key to meeting that goal, Fraley said.
"We are very proud that Monsanto and farmers hold SDSU's plant breeding program in such high regard. The Monsanto Plant Breeding Fellowships will further advance SDSU's research by providing training in the most modern plant improvement techniques," said Kevin Kephart, vice president of research at SDSU.
The fellowships will enhance SDSU's plant breeding program by helping recruit and train outstanding students from around the globe and that, in turn, helps agriculture in South Dakota, said Sue Blodgett, head of the plant science department at SDSU.
SDSU already has strong applied plant breeding and cultivar development programs. With this program, the university will be able to expand opportunities available to students seeking a science career in agriculture, Blodgett said. It helps increase the available number of applied plant breeders from which the agriculture industry can recruit future employees.
"Our program, along with Monsanto's support and expertise, will give more students the much-needed balance of lab- and field-based research experience that meets the industry's needs," Blodgett said.
The joint program in plant breeding will be ready to accept its first students in fall 2009, Kephart said.
"Agriculture is South Dakota's number one industry," said South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even. "New technological advancements are vital in order to meet the challenge of producing the world's food, fiber, feed, and fuel in the twenty-first century. This partnership is an important step toward achieving these goals. When industry and higher education work together on projects like these, good things can happen quickly."
About Monsanto Company
Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com.
About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state's Morrill Act land-grant institution and its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from eight different colleges representing more than 200 majors, minors and options. The institution also offers 23 master's degree programs and 12 Ph.D. programs. The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings and at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City.
CONTACT Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair (314-694-4490) Bob Otterson (605-688-4111)
SOURCE: Monsanto Company
Web site: http://www.monsanto.com/