Monsanto reaches licensing deal on genome-editing technology

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Monsanto announced Thursday that it has reached a global licensing agreement on genome-editing technologies with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after Monsanto agreed to a $66 billion deal with Bayer AG, joining a growing list of recent agribusiness mergers.

The National Farmers Union and other critics have voiced concerns that such business moves could stifle innovation. Agribusiness executives say open licensing agreements will prevent that by sharing new technology throughout the research and agriculture community.

Monsanto’s licensing agreement is for agriculture use of CRISPR-Cas technology, which allows genetic engineers and scientists to modify or repair DNA more easily than in the past. The St. Louis-based seed company said that it expects the open licensing agreement will help “deliver a wide array of crop improvements to global agriculture.”

“Genome-editing techniques present precise ways to dramatically improve the scale and discovery efficiency of new research that can improve human health and global agriculture,” said Issi Rozen, chief business officer of the Broad Institute. “We are encouraged to see these tools being used to help deliver response solutions to help farmers meet the demand of our growing population.”

Exact terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

While researchers see CRISPR-Cas technology as exciting, its true intellectual-property rights are up for debate, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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