Evogene Establishing Biofuel Feedstock Field Trials in Texas and Brazil

01/02/2010

Rehovot, Israel (February 1, 2009) – Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN) announced yesterday the establishment of field trials in Texas, USA and northeastern Brazil, for the evaluation of its proprietary castor bean lines. These castor bean lines, designed for higher yield and growth on semi-arid land, are being developed by Evogene to serve as a sustainable and cost efficient second-generation feedstock for biofuel production. 

Having recently completed two years of field trials under semi-arid conditions in Israel, the purpose of the field trials in Texas and Brazil is to evaluate the lines when grown in the two main target locations for future commercial growth, and further develop them to local conditions. The semi-arid land potentially available for castor commercial growth in these areas is estimated at over 10 million hectares and the climate conditions are suitable for this purpose. The field trials will be operated in collaboration with Texas AgriLife Research, part of the Texas A&M System in the U.S., and South Cone Agriculture in Brazil.  


"During the past few years, in addition to our well-established and rapidly growing agbio trait activities, our biofuel activity has grown with the castor project being a key component,” stated Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. “Both the USA and Brazil have strong potential in terms of land availability, commitment to biofuels and ability to develop large scale agriculture industries. We look forward to working with the professional teams at Texas AgriLife Research and South Cone Agriculture to test our castor lines and further develop them towards commercialization."


Mr. Haviv continued, “Consistent with our increased focus on castor project, the company recently announced that the collaboration with Orfuel, a US subsidiary of Ormat Industries, for the development of improved feedstock sources for biodiesel production, has been terminated. The field trials being announced today are a continuation of that effort, but moving forward now as a part of Evogene’s proprietary biofuel program." 


The biodiesel market in the U.S. and Brazil is growing rapidly, with production of 2.5 and 1.3 billion liters respectively, which combined represented in 2008 more than one-third of the global biodiesel production. The Brazilian government is heavily promoting the production of biodiesel and recently announced the adoption of a legal mandate for use of 5 percent biodiesel blended with diesel fuel. In addition, currently both the U.S. and Brazil have surplus industrial capacity to produce biodiesel, however the major bottleneck of the industry remains feedstock supply to meet the required demand. 


Mr. Haviv concluded: "There is an immediate need for a sustainable, widely available and cost efficient second-generation plant feedstock for biofuels. We believe that the castor bean varieties Evogene is developing can provide a solution for the industry." 


About Evogene

Evogene is a world leading developer of improved plant traits. The company’s proprietary product development platform combines state of the art computational gene discovery technology (The 'ATHLETE'), plant and field validation capabilities and unique selection systems. Evogene's current programs focus on the improvement of key plant traits, such as yield and stress tolerance, and the improvement of plants specifically for biofuel uses. Evogene has collaboration and licensing agreements with world leading companies in the agro-biotech and alternative energy industries. Evogene's headquarters are in Rehovot, Israel, and its stock is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE:EVGN). For additional information, please visit Evogene’s website at www.evogene.com


About The Texas A&M System/Texas AgriLife Research

Texas A&M was established in 1876 as Texas' first public institution of higher learning. Today it has a 5,000-acre campus boasting world-class research programs and award-winning faculty. As one of the world's leading research institutions, The Texas A&M System makes significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including many to science and technology. Research conducted within the system represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. Part of the Texas A&M System, Texas AgriLife Research is the state's premier research agency in agriculture, natural resources and the life sciences. Collaborative research spans various scientific disciplines and is conducted throughout Texas, the U.S. and numerous countries worldwide. This research creates basic, fundamental and applied contributions, in many cases resulting in economic benefit to the state, nation and world.

About South Cone Agriculture

South Cone Agriculture, Plc (SCA) is an Irish company engaged in the development of large scale agro-industrial plantations targeting the biofuels and chemical industries. Its activities are carried out in South America and are soon to be expanded to Africa. SCA's focus is on origination of oilseeds, mainly castor, jatropha and crambe - high value oils with special chemical characteristics.