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New Research Center Will Bring Laboratory and Field Together

00:00AM Oct 23, 2008

Sara Muri, Farm Journal Business & Crops Online Editor

Plant scientists will soon be able to take their concepts and research beyond the laboratory into the field, with the announcement of the MU Plant Science Research Center and Mexico Technology Park. The center, which was announced Oct. 22 in Mexico, Mo., plans to provide an educational setting for biotechnology research.
During an announcement ceremony, several dignitaries, university representatives and community officials expressed their support for the new center.

Dr. Thomas Payne, MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Vice Chancellor and Dean, speaks about the future opportunities at the MU Plant Science Research Center in Mexico, Mo. 

At the announcement MU Plant Science Research Center, U.S. Sen. Christopher Kit Bond, discusses how the center will bring agriculture into the 21st Century.
Creating a ‘Biotech Valley'
U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit” Bond, R-Mo., said he hopes the introduction of the research center will make Missouri a leader in biotechnology.
"Ten years ago,” he said, "I decided one of the most important things we could do in Missouri was to move into the 21st Century as the "biotech valley” of the 21st Century, like San Jose was the Silicon Valley of the 20th Century. The most important thing was that we already had working in Missouri all the foundation for this type of revolution.”
Taking Research to Market
Bond said the facility will bring researchers together with students and entrepreneurs. By creating this educational arena, he said, research will be able to move from the labs to the marketplace.
"It's one thing to have tremendous research, and we do that,” he said. "But, research without application is just something that scientist can pat himself or herself on the back for.” Bond says the research done at the center could equal greater agricultural production, more nutritious food, drought-resistant and disease-resistant crops, environmental improvements, health benefits and other new products.
"This truly is the start of a brand new era, the start of the 21st Century in plant biotechnology for Mexico, Audrain County, and rural Missouri,” he said.
The MU Plant Science Research Center is a partnership between the federal and state government, the local community private industry and public institutions. The public institutions include the University of Missouri and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Roger Beachy, of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, said while biotechnology has really changed the medical field, it is now becoming extremely important for agriculture.
"Recall when the Model A drove first on ethanol,” Beachy said. "We converted it to gasoline, but it drove first on ethanol. We are back to the future. We are back to where we started, but it is going to be better the second time around, than the first.”
"Greening' the Economy
Beachy said the center will allow for both environmental and economic advancements.
"Finally we have green making green,” he said. "We are ready in the scientific laboratories to be the feedstock which leads to discoveries that will fuel America's Midwestern green revolution, which will lead to both the greening of the environment and the greening of the economy.”
The economic development for the around 12,000-population community was a driver for Eddie and Connie Sydenstricker, who donated the land for the center.
"We're ag-based people in an ag-based community,” said Eddie Sydenstricker. "This will help a great deal to our community.”

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