Public Release: 

Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Signs Licensing Agreement With American Cyanamid For Herbicide-Tolerant Rice

Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and American Cyanamid Co. signed a global licensing agreement today (August 24) to bring a revolutionary technology to weed control in rice production.

American Cyanamid produces and markets the imidazolinones, a unique family of weed control products. The imidazolinones work on an enzyme that is present in plants but not in animals, birds, fish or insects.

This selectivity makes the imidazolinones very environmentally compatible to humans and wildlife while providing outstanding weed control.

A research scientist at the LSU Ag Center has developed new strains of rice that are tolerant to these herbicides, which can now be used to control major weed problems in rice.

The two new rice breeding lines were developed by Dr. Tim Croughan, a professor of agronomy with the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the LSU Ag Center.

Imazethapyr, the imidazolinone being used with the imidazolinone-tolerant rice in the United States, provides control of most major weed problems in rice, including difficult-to-control weeds such as red rice. Red rice, because it belongs to the same species as cultivated strains of rice, has historically been particularly difficult to control.

American Cyanamid currently is conducting studies needed to obtain approval for imidazolinone use on rice.

"American Cyanamid is delighted to be able to provide a new technology tool to rice growers around the world which can improve their yields through this new approach to controlling weed competition," said Dr. Howard Minigh, president of Cyanamid Global Agricultural Products.

"This special collaboration with industry will allow the LSU Ag Center and the people of Louisiana to participate in bringing this technology to farmers in ways we couldn't do alone," said Dr. William B. Richardson, chancellor of the LSU Agricultural Center, adding, "This licensing agreement also will provide additional support for the ongoing research of the LSU Ag Center's Rice Research Station and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station."

Croughan's field tests at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, La., initially identified two rice plants with tolerance to imidazolinone herbicides. Then breeding programs began to introduce the tolerance into other plants that possess more-desirable agronomic characteristics.

Croughan points out the new rice lines are not genetically engineered materials but the result of identifying and developing a natural mutation. No genes were introduced from any other organism.

"It took 17 years of continuous work before our first success," Croughan said. "Since 1981, we looked at literally hundreds of millions of rice seeds to find the ones that had tolerance to imidazolinone herbicides.

"The germplasm is in development," Croughan said. "We're breeding the trait into other high-yielding varieties and into advanced materials that we believe will become new varieties."

Dr. Steve Linscombe, professor of agronomy at the Rice Research Station, is leading the initiative to incorporate the herbicide tolerance characteristic into rice varieties that possess superior agronomic properties.

"Improved weed control will increase yields and give farmers greater flexibility in crop rotations, herbicide timing, planting practices and water management," Croughan said.

"The state of Louisiana and Louisiana rice farmers have generously invested in agricultural research for many years, and this is the latest of many research discoveries that will provide Louisiana farmers and, in fact, the entire population of the state, with a significant return on that investment," said Dr. R. Larry Rogers, vice chancellor for research at the Ag Center and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station.

"I am very pleased and proud that the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station is playing a leading role in the development of weed control technology that will have a revolutionary impact on the way rice is produced," he added. "This is truly a milestone event in the history of rice weed control technology that will rival or perhaps exceed the impact of developing chlorophenoxy herbicides such as 2,4-D and the acetamides such as propanil in the 1950s and 1960s."

In addition to the four U.S. patents issued on this technology, Rogers said other patent applications are pending in the United States and abroad.

"We are fulfilling the state-mandated mission to develop technologies that improve the efficiency, productivity and profitability of farmers and thus contribute to the economic development of our state and to the quality of life for people in Louisiana," Rogers said.

"The products we are seeing today are the result of 17 years of research that depended on the long-term commitment of the staff and facilities of Louisiana's land-grant research institution and the continued support of the public," Richardson said. "If it were not for the cooperative efforts of higher education, industry and the people of Louisiana, this new technology would never have become a reality."

American Cyanamid Co. is a subsidiary of American Home Products Corporation, which is one of the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical and health care product companies. American Home Products is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. It also is a global leader in vaccines, biotechnology, agricultural products and animal health care.

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Contact:

Dr. Tim Croughan at (318) 788-7531 or tcroughan@agctr.lsu.edu
Dr. R. Larry Rogers at (504) 388-4181 or lrogers@agctr.lsu.edu
Rick Bogren (LSU Ag Center) at (504) 388-2263 or rbogren@agctr.lsu.edu
David Albaugh (American Cyanamid Co.) at (973) 683-3255 or david_albaugh@py.cyanamid.com

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