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NCGA, Divergence, Inc. collaborate to help corn growers increase yields

(Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a press release.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and St. Louis-based Divergence, Inc., today announced a research collaboration focused on the control of parasitic nematodes (roundworms) that plague corn and many other crops.

Divergence, a research and development company, is developing nematicides, as well as nematode resistance plant genes that can be delivered as valuable traits in the seed. This research is intended to provide a safe method to protect plants from nematode pests.

Current nematode control is accomplished by using chemicals that can have serious consequences to human and environmental health. In fact, many of these compounds are scheduled to be removed from the market. Through this collaboration, Divergence and NCGA hope to offer growers new, safe approaches to control nematodes in their crops.

“Experts estimate nematode damage causes reduction in corn yields of roughly 10 percent worldwide,” said Gary Davis, chairman, NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team. “We expect this research has the potential to benefit the growers in three ways: first, it could lead to products for the control of an important crop pathogen during a time when so many control methods are being removed from the market; second, it has the potential to make farming much safer, both for farmers and their communities; and third, it should allow growers to produce crops more profitable.

“We are very excited to work with Divergence,” said Davis. “Divergence has impressive products in development and a strong research platform to make many additional discoveries.”

Derek Rapp, chief executive officer, Divergence, said, “The alliance between NCGA and Divergence is important because it has the potential to offer corn growers a safe and effective agent to control nematodes. Working with NCGA and its extensive base of growers will provide Divergence important links to the agricultural community, ensuring the products Divergence develops will be beneficial to customers.

“The combination of Divergence’s science and NCGA’s strong position in agriculture will position the two organizations to make a significant contribution to agriculture through a successful partnership,” concluded Rapp.

Divergence, Inc. is a research and development company dedicated to the discovery of effective and ecologically sound strategies for the control of parasites and other pests. The company’s initial focus is on parasitic nematodes, one of the world’s major pest groups. Nematodes are roundworms that cause billions of dollars in damage annually to numerous crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, strawberries and bananas. Nematodes also cause widespread disease in animals, including infections such as heartworm in dogs and cats and intestinal worms in livestock. Nematode-induced human diseases include elephantiasis and African river blindness.