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DuPont Joint Venture with Chinese Biotech Firm Strengthens Gene Discovery Research Efforts

Partnership Will Focus on Identifying New Biotech Traits to Improve Farmer


BEIJING, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- DuPont and Beijing Weiming Kaituo Agriculture Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (BWK) today announced the formation of a joint venture to accelerate the discovery of genes for high value agronomic traits such as stress tolerance and efficient nutrient utilization to improve the performance of important crops for farmers in China and throughout the world. For DuPont, this marks another step toward the globalization of its R&D capabilities to accelerate new product launches and drive business growth for its worldwide seed business, Pioneer Hi-Bred. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Novel trait combinations that provide plants with genetic solutions to successfully confront the challenges of water and nutrient deficiencies and cope with unfavorable wind and temperature extremes resonate with every farmer I've ever worked with," said Bill Niebur, DuPont vice president, Crop Genetics Research and Development. "This new joint venture brings together industry- leading biotechnology researchers to develop enabling technologies and discover new genes for important agronomic traits that can further improve farmer productivity and profitability globally. BWK's strengths in functional genomics and molecular breeding will make a major impact across our entire product pipeline."

Peking University and its affiliate, Peking University Weiming Biotech Group Co., Ltd., are significant participants in the joint venture through an ownership stake in BWK.

"We are excited to work with DuPont to advance research of important agronomic traits for improving agricultural crop production," said Dr. Zhihong Xu, president of Peking University. "Through this joint venture, we will be able to expand our world-class research efforts to benefit farmers in China and around the world."

The joint venture will be managed by Dr. James H. Zhou, former chief executive officer of BWK. Dr. Guihua Lu of DuPont Crop Genetics has been appointed as deputy general manager and technology manager.

"China has emphasized that its growth efforts need to place a greater emphasis on sustainability and the environment," said Douglas Muzyka, president of DuPont Greater China and Du Pont China Holding Co., Ltd. "Clearly, DuPont's core values and global strategies for growth align with China's vision to develop its agricultural sector and overall economy. This research-focused joint venture will allow us to develop more sustainable technologies to address the global challenges of improving agricultural economics -- enhancing farmers' quality of life and securing the world's food supply on a decreasing amount of cultivatable land."

Pioneer is the first major global seed business to have a significant presence in key Chinese corn markets through two previous joint ventures. Pioneer established a business representative office in Beijing in 1997. A year later, it began breeding and testing corn hybrids for commercialization in China for the summer and spring corn areas. The first Pioneer corn hybrids were approved for commercialization in 2002. Pioneer established a summer corn joint venture, Shandong Denghai Pioneer Seeds Co., Ltd., in late 2002. The first commercial sales were in 2004, and the business has grown significantly since. In 2006, Pioneer announced its second joint venture with one of China's largest seed production companies, Dunhuang Seed Co., Ltd., to provide top-performing corn hybrids to Chinese farmers in the spring market.

BWK was established in 2000 by four prestigious, agribiotechnology-focused academic institutions and has capabilities in functional genomics, trait gene and promoter discovery and molecular breeding technologies for hybrid seeds. BWK is engaged in the business of developing and delivering biotech traits for crop productivity and improvement to the Chinese markets.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.

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