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DuPont, 2 Brit. Labs To Study Wheat

September 14, 1998

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ DuPont today announced a research alliance with two British laboratories to develop new wheat and grain varieties.

The company will team up with The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, both located in Norwich, England, as well as with Plant Bioscience, the management company for the two institutions. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Research from the alliance will be commercialized through DuPont’s Wheat Enterprise, which was established this year and includes the company’s Cereal Innovation Centre, based in Cambridge, England. The center develops cereal-derived ingredients for food manufacturing, health care and other industries.

The agreement allows DuPont to use the work of molecular biologists at the institutions and could lead to improved wheat grain quality and the development of disease-resistant strains of wheat, the company said in a statement.

DuPont wants to refocus its efforts in life sciences and agricultural products.

Earlier this year, the company announced it would purchase Merck & Co.’s share in a joint pharmaceutical operation and sell its petroleum subsidiary, Conoco, to concentrate on life sciences and other segments.

Last year, it announced it would spend $1.7 billion to buy a 20 percent stake in Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., the world’s largest seed corn company.

``Now, they’ve moved into the other major food and feed crop (with wheat), so it’s certainly positive,″ said James Kelleher, an analyst with Argus Research. ``I still think they’re playing catch-up in life sciences.″

Monsanto Co., one of DuPont’s chief rivals in the chemical industry, has spun off its chemical business to concentrate on agricultural products and biotechnology, including plans to acquire DeKalb Genetics Corp., Cargill Inc.’s international seed operations and Plant Breeding International Cambridge Ltd.

DuPont operates in 70 countries and has 98,000 employees worldwide.

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