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Arizona-Based SenesTech, Inc., Partners With Australia to Stop Starvation Due to Rice Shortages

SAN DIEGO, June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A new chemical fertility control technology that could substantially reduce the devastating impacts of rodents on rice production in developing countries is being featured at the BIO 2008 International Convention in San Diego, California from the 17th through the 20th of June. SenesTech, Inc., a Flagstaff, Arizona - based corporation, is developing a technology that will target the fertility of rice field rats in Southeast Asia. If successful this technology will result in increased crop yields, an increase in food supplies globally, and will improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of lives within a few years.

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this technology," said Dr. Loretta P. Mayer, one of the company's founders and inventors of the technology. "One fifth to one third of the world's food supply never reaches the table due to the deleterious impacts of rodents. They damage crops both pre- and post-harvest by not only eating the grain but damaging it with urine and feces pollution. They also spread many debilitating diseases. While this problem has persisted for centuries, it is possible that we may be able to start reversing this process. Research shows that just a ten percent reduction in the rice rat population can feed over 380 million people. The numbers are simply staggering," she said.

The development of the technology is being completed at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, while further characterization of animal models is being conducted at Arizona State University in Tempe. The technology is built on patents filed by the University of Arizona in Tucson, on which Dr. Mayer is co-inventor. This statewide effort reflects the mission of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, which provides Arizona scientists with a conduit for collaborative research and technology transfer.

"It is impressive to witness the level of collaboration and innovation that occur within our universities and communities," said Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. "These advances -- which potentially have a significant impact on the planet -- are possible when we create the infrastructure for and foster science-based projects and discoveries."

To complete development of the environmentally neutral product called "ContraPest(TM)", and to provide for efficient distribution, the Arizona-based biotech company has signed an international agreement with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) in Canberra, the capital of Australia. This Centre is part of an Australian government science innovation program that brings together research institutions, industry partners and business enterprises to accelerate technology transfer and the delivery of new products into the marketplace.

Rats, insects, and weeds rank as the three major pests of small landholder farmers in developing countries. A pair of rodents and their offspring can potentially produce over 600 offspring in just three months. When food supplies are plentiful, rodents reach unprecedented numbers. Today, it is not unusual for smallholder rice farmers to report chronic yield losses of 20-30% per year, rising to 50% or even total crop loss in certain areas. This places an enormous strain on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in developing countries. In turn, such losses compound the current food crisis, placing a heavy burden on the tens of millions of landless and urban poor. SenesTech believes the technology has the potential to have a significant impact in the 13 countries that produce over 84% of the world's rice supply, including China, India, and other Southeast Asian nations, which will be SenesTech's first customers.

Dr. Mayer, along with Dr. Cheryl Dyer, and Dr. Timothy Vail, SenesTech's scientific team, has developed this environmentally safe alternative to poison that can be used to sterilize the rice field rat. The technology accelerates the natural reproductive aging process in the rat resulting in sterility or reproductive "senescence". These scientists, all from Northern Arizona University, have teamed up with Dr. Lyn Hinds from the IACRC and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia and Drs. Sudarmaji at the Indonesian Centre for Rice Research in Sukamandi, Indonesia to begin assessment of the product in Indonesian-based studies this fall.

"I am dedicated to addressing starvation with this technology and changing the livelihoods of the rural poor," said Everett Hale, CEO. Hale was recruited by the company to lead the international effort and build on the company's core technology. "I never knew the extent to which governments had to use poison to prevent famine. A percentage of poison in any food supply is not acceptable. We are losing lives and the environment. Through our technology, we can now change the world and help feed its people."

For additional information on ContraPest(TM) contact Everett Hale at or visit ContraPest(TM) is projected to be available for commercial use in the Spring of 2010.

ABOUT (SenesTech, Inc.) SenesTech is a platform technology company located in Flagstaff, Arizona specializing in fertility control products for wildlife population control including dogs and cats. Other products in the development pipeline include ChemSpay(TM), a non-surgical spay product for female dogs and cats.

SOURCE SenesTech, Inc.
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