Monsanto congratulates scientists behind the Arabidopsis genome sequence

December 12, 2000

Monsanto Company congratulates the scientists behind today's publication in the journal Nature of the genome sequence of Arabidopsis Thaliana. "It's a scientific milestone that highlights the great potential of plant genomic research," said Dr. Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer.

"Like the human genome project's impact on medical research, this complete plant genome provides a road map for understanding plants to improve nutrition and health in the future. Monsanto scientists are pleased to have been able to contribute to this effort," continued Dr. Fraley.

Monsanto contributed to today's Nature publication via Cereon Genomics, a subsidiary of Monsanto based in Cambridge, Mass. Dr. Steve Rounsley of Cereon lead a team that earlier this year discovered more than 40,000 genetic markers such as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and made them publicly available. Prior to this release, fewer than 1,000 Arabidopsis markers were known. The new markers increased the resolution of the genetic map used by Arabidopsis researchers approximately 50-100 fold.

"The public project focused on the Arabidopsis variety "Columbia" for it's sequencing, while Cereon began working with the variety "Landsberg" and discovered the markers by comparing the two," said Dr. Rounsley. "So far, approximatly 600 labs have accessed the website and used the data."

Cereon made its marker data freely available to The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) project. Funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), TAIR is a collaboration between the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) and the Department of Plant Biology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW) at Stanford University. The Cereon data is available on the website: http://www.arabidopsis.org/cereon Following the initial release of 39,315 SNPs in May 2000, a further 4,476 were added by Cereon in November 2000.

Arabidopsis is a flowering plant and member of the mustard family, and its characteristics make it an ideal model for plant genetic research. The Arabidopsis genome provides researchers with essential information about plant specific genes. It also shows the way to new techniques to more rapidly identify genes for improving agricultural crop plants either through enhanced conventional breeding or biotechnology.

The Arabidopsis genome has been completed as a co-operative effort by a global group of researchers principally supported by the NSF, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, the Kazusa DNA Research Institute Foundation, and the European Commission.

In addition to work on Arabidopsis, Monsanto worked with Dr. Leroy Hood at the University of Washington in Seattle to produce a "working draft" of the rice genome sequence in April of 2000. Monsanto donated this sequence to the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project. Making some research materials public in this way forms part of Monsanto's ongoing commitment to dialogue, transparency, respect, sharing and delivering benefits, recently outlined by Company President and Chief Executive Officer Hendrik A. Verfaillie as the "New Monsanto Pledge".
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Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), an 85 percent owned subsidiary of Pharmacia Corporation (NYSE:PHA), is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity. For more information on Monsanto, see: http://www.monsanto.com

Certain statements contained in this release, such as statements concerning the development of new seed and food products, are "forward-looking statements." These statements are based on factors that involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Factors that may cause actual results to differ include, among others: the success of product development activities and the speed with which regulatory approvals and product roll-outs may be achieved; domestic and foreign social, legal and political developments, especially those relating to agricultural products developed through biotechnology; the success of research efforts; the ability to produce new products in adequate amounts; and other risks and factors detailed in Monsanto's Registration Statement on Form S-1, as amended, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Monsanto disclaims any intention or obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Monsanto Company

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