Monsanto Co. announced Wednesday that it had bought Beeologics,a company that is developing a product that promises to help beessurvive an illness that has been wiping out colonies across theworld.
Creve Couer-based Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company,did not disclose the terms of the sale.
Beeologics, a research company founded in 2007 with headquartersin Florida and Israel, has developed a product called Remembee,which is an anti-viral agent that the company’s researchers believecould stem the impact of colony collapse disorder. The mysteriousdisorder has decimated honeybee populations around the globe, withfar-reaching implications for agriculture.
“While the investment is an enabling technology for us, we’reabsolutely committed to Beeologics’ existing work,” explained KellyPowers, a Monsanto spokesperson. “I don’t need to tell you howimportant bees are to farmers who rely on pollination, and Remembeehas great promise, pending approvals.”
Remembee is still subject to further trials, and the U.S. Foodand Drug Administration is currently reviewing Remembee forapproval, Powers noted.
Remembee, according to Beeologics’ website, utilizes RNAinterference, a mechanism that blocks gene expression. The companyclaims that the agent has proved effective in mitigating theeffects of a virus that may be linked to the disorder.
Bees are the “workhorses” of agriculture, pollinating everythingfrom almonds to alfalfa, and an estimated $14 billion in Americancrops rely on bees for pollination. since the disorder was firstreported in late 2006, it has been confounding scientists who haveblamed everything from mites to pesticides to travel-relatedstress. Bee colonies are shipped around the country, from field tofield, for pollination. In recent years, partly because of colonycollapse disorder, farmers have been paying increasingly high ratesfor pollination via rented hives.
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