Alnylam and Monsanto form strategic alliance

Monsanto Co. and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday that they have formed a strategic alliance to advance biological technologies in the field of agriculture.

Monsanto will pay $29.2 million in upfront payments to Alnylam, a Cambridge company that is seeking to develop drugs with its RNAi gene-silencing technology. To date, Alnylam has no products on the market.

Under Tuesday’s agreement, Monsanto said it has received worldwide, exclusive rights to use Alnylam’s platform technology and intellectual property in the field of agriculture, including the ability to grant sublicenses.

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“We believe biological products have great promise in agriculture,” Tom Adams, vice president of chemistry technology at Monsanto, said in a statement.

Biologicals are used to complement or replace agricultural chemical products and represent a growing segment of a roughly $1.7 billion market in annual sales, Alnylam said.

In addition to the upfront payments, Alnylam is eligible to receive milestone payments and additional funding for collaborative research efforts. Alnylam is also eligible to receive royalty payments on products utilizing Alnylam technology and intellectual property as Monsanto becomes Alnylam’s strategic partner in agriculture for a 10-year period, the two companies said in a press release.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Monsanto is a global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.