C. S. Prakash prakash at
Tue Apr 4 10:55:15 EST 2000


ST. LOUIS  (April 4, 2000) - Monsanto today announced a major scientific
breakthrough in decoding the genetic make-up of rice, and that it will share
its data with researchers around the world. This will enable the world's
scientific community to greatly accelerate the development of more
nutritious and higher yielding rice.  It is also expected to lead to similar
developments in other major crops such as corn and wheat.
The rice genome sequence has been decoded to the level of a 'working draft.'

This is the first crop genome to be described in such technical detail, and
will provide a new level of understanding of almost all the genes in rice,
but leaves certain details yet to be determined.
A new gene sequencing approach produced the data primarily in the
laboratories of Dr. Leroy Hood, at the University of Washington in Seattle,
under contract for Monsanto.

Monsanto's data will be made available to the International Rice Genome
Sequencing Project (IRGSP), a ten-member consortium of rice genome
sequencing projects around the world.  The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the lead agency in the IRGSP, confirmed at a
press conference in Tokyo today that it will distribute a set of the
company's data to members of the IRGSP.

Earlier today in Tokyo, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries (MAFF), speaking on behalf of the International Rice Genome
Sequencing Project (IRGSP), said this initiative is the first time a private
enterprise will share a large volume of genome information globally in this
way.  The initiative is "to be highly applauded," the Ministry stated.
The Ministry added that "the use of this data by the international
consortium will significantly accelerate decoding" of the entire rice

Monsanto also will make its data available to researchers outside the
international rice sequencing program.  Hendrik Verfaillie, President of
Monsanto Company, said, "we want to facilitate and encourage basic research
to improve rice and other crops.  This is a concrete example of our support
for global agricultural research." No fees will be charged to scientists for
the use of this information, he added.
Meeting new needs for improved rice

This new body of information will provide countries and research
institutions with the ability to accelerate development of improved types of
rice. In the years ahead, rice with better nutritional value, greater
yields, and more adaptable to seasons, climates and soils will be developed,
both through traditional methods of crop improvement (breeding) and

This research may also lead to the development of rice varieties
that require less environmental resources, including land and water, and
utilize natural resources more effectively. The International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI) estimates that a billion new rice consumers will be added
in Asia by 2020.  By that date, four billion people - more than half the
world's population - will depend on rice.

"We hope that sharing this data will lead to many discoveries that
enhance food security throughout the developing world," said Mr. Verfaillie.
Benefits to other crops
In addition to being one of the most important world food crops, rice serves
as a research model. The availability of detailed information about the rice
genome will likely lead to advancing global efforts to improve other major
food crops, including corn (maize), wheat, barley, sorghum, millet, and

Monsanto undertook this rice genome sequencing project in support of its
ongoing crop research and development programs.
Monsanto Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pharmacia, is a leading
provider of agricultural solutions to growers worldwide.  Its 12,000
employees provide top-quality, cost-effective and integrated approaches to
help farmers improve their productivity and produce better quality foods.
For more information on Monsanto, see:


Sequencing  Collaboration (IRGSP):

China The National Center for Gene Research (NCGR),
Chinese Academy of Sciences

France 	Genoscope

India, or

Japan ,Rice Genome Research Program

The Korea Rice Genome Database

Thailand , National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

UK  John Innes Centre

USA  National Plant Genome Initiative - January 1998

National Plant Genome Initiative Progress Report - October

The Plant Genome Initiative at Rutgers

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Clemson University Genomics Institute

The Institute for Genomic Research  (TIGR)

Genome Sequencing Center,  Washington University in St. Louis, School of

Klaus Ammann
Botanical Garden, University of Bern
Altenbergrain 21
CH - 3013 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. +41 31 631 49 37
Fax +41 31 631 49 93
klaus.ammann at


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