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Evogene and Zeraim Gedera to jointly develop salt tolerant tomato varieties

20/09/2004

Rehovot, Israel - September 20th 2004 - Evogene Ltd, a pioneer in plant biotechnology, and Zeraim Gedera, a leading Israeli seed company, today announced the signature of a collaboration agreement for the joint development and commercialization of salt tolerant tomato rootstocks and seed varieties.

The collaboration includes the joint development by the partners of tomato lines tolerant to high salinity levels. The leading tomato growing areas in the world such as California and the Mediterranean area rely heavily on irrigation. Due to massive irrigation practice and the use of water sources with increasing salinity levels, many of these major growing areas are becoming affected by accumulated soil salinity, which requires the development of tomato lines with good performance in these conditions.

The project will make use of tomato genetic material pre-selected by Evogene through its unique high throughput system, which enables the selection of plants highly tolerant to salinity. The partners will jointly develop high salinity tolerant tomato lines with the required commercial performance. The partners will also use Evogene's genomic marker discovery using its computational genomics capabilities to track the salinity performance of the developed products.

Zeraim Gedera will be responsible for the breeding of the varieties and rootstocks by contributing its existing commercial tomato germplasm and implementing its extensive breeding experience. Zeraim Gedera will also take care of producing the seed and marketing the developed tomato varieties in the target markets.

Ofer Haviv, COO for Evogene, stated: "We are very pleased to enter into this cooperation with a company with established leading tomato marketing capabilities. This cooperation validates Evogene's business model to become a leading provider of improved plant traits together with seed companies".

Ohad Zuckerman, CEO of Zeraim Gedera stated: "This project is a great example of synergy between companies with complementing capabilities. Initially, we planned to enter this market by ourselves, using traditional breeding. By joining hands with Evogene we believe our return on investment will be better since Evogene's technology will shorten our time-to-market".

About Evogene
Evogene Ltd. mission is to become a leading developer of 'improved trait plants' via a proprietary platform combining state-of-the-art computational genomics, molecular biology and advanced classical breeding methods. This objective is accomplished through the development of high-throughput, economically efficient platforms that accelerate, direct and mimic the natural evolution process. Evogene's current research efforts are focused in three areas: key trait improvements in cotton; gene discovery for abiotic stress tolerance and plant nutrient uptake; and a proprietary platform for the production of therapeutic proteins in plants.
Initiated in 1999 as a division of Compugen (NASDAQ: CGEN); Evogene was established as a separate company in 2002 by Compugen and founders Drs. Hagai Karchi and Rafi Meissner. For additional information, please visit Evogene's Website at www.evogene.com.

About Zeraim Gedera
Zeraim Gedera established in 1952, breeds high quality vegetable varieties and markets the seeds of such varieties worldwide. Company's breeding programs are aimed at developing fruit qualities attractive to consumers such as specific visual traits, long shelf life, superior taste and nutritional values together with traits important to the growers such as high yield and resistance to various diseases and pests. Zeraim Gedera maintains a very strong IP position in Tomato developments. The Company is a "green" company, which uses Biotechnology as a tool to upgrade its present and future R&D activities but does not breed transgenic varieties. Zeraim Gedera focuses on the "high end" of both the growers and the consumers in various markets in the Mediterranean Basin, China, North America and selected markets in South America and Asia. For additional information, please visit Zeraim Gedera's website at www.zeraimgedera.com.