Pfizer Animal Health announced on March 19, 2008 that it will acquire two market-leading livestock genomics companies: Catapult Genetics, Pty., Ltd., focused on developing and commercializing innovative livestock DNA tests and gene markers to assist global food producers, processors and retailers in improving profitability and quality in the global food chain; and Bovigen, LLC, which markets DNA technology, including Catapult’s products in the U.S. and throughout Canada, Central America and South America.
Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. The acquisitions are expected to close by the end of March. The two companies will continue to market products and services to their own customers as well as Pfizer Animal Health customers.
“This is a strategic initiative that places Pfizer at the forefront of livestock gene marker R&D and enhances Pfizer’s ability to offer more complete solutions to global livestock producers,” said Juan Ramon Alaix, president, Pfizer Animal Health.
Current genetic tests are focused on productivity and carcass quality, while future genetic tests may one day allow producers to better predict disease in individual animals, thus helping veterinarians and producers target medicines to livestock that need it most, Alaix said.
“Catapult’s ongoing product R&D is based on core technology platforms developed in collaboration with research groups in Australia and New Zealand,” said Gerard Davis, chief executive officer, Catapult Genetics. “Now with Pfizer’s added resources and capabilities, we expect livestock producers will begin to see an enhanced range of genetic tools. For sheep and beef cattle producers in Australia and New Zealand there will be benefits from a continued focus on their needs as well as access to new and improved products,” Davis said.
As novel marker panels are discovered and developed, Pfizer plans to introduce new products and services to livestock producers. “In the U.S., Pfizer also will be able to enhance the development and uptake of new genetic markers identified through Bovigen’s participation in The Carcass Merit Project with Texas A&M University and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. This project, partially funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, is designed to generate new and important markers for U.S. cattle producers,” said Victor Castellon, chief executive officer, Bovigen.
“DNA markers allow beef producers to make better management decisions, to improve the quality of their herd by selecting animals with certain high-valued genetic traits, and to create a long-term, positive economic impact for their business,” said Nigel Evans, senior director of business innovation for Pfizer Animal Health, who will lead the Catapult and Bovigen businesses for Pfizer.
Genetic information also can help guarantee food quality – beef tenderness or well-marbled beef. Gene markers help beef producers to identify better breeding stock.
“Our move today expands Pfizer’s already strong commitment to promoting livestock health and safe, high-quality food around the world,” Evans said.
Catapult Genetics, Pty., Ltd., was formed in December 2006 with the merger of Catapult Systems, based in New Zealand, and Genetic Solutions, based in Australia. Catapult is a global innovator and leader in sheep and cattle DNA testing technologies for meat and carcass quality and production efficiency under the GeneSTAR® Quality Grade, Feed Efficiency, the SureTRAK® system, and the SireTRACETM product brands. In addition to co-founders Gerard Davis and Jay Hetzel, shareholders include AgResearch, CSIRO, Kestrel Capital’s Nanyang Innovation Fund, and Meat & Wool New Zealand. For more information on Catapult Genetics visit www.catapultgenetics.com.
Bovigen, LLC, based in Harahan, Louisiana, is a global genetic technology company founded by Vic Castellon in 2003. Bovigen will continue to market and service Catapult’s products throughout the Americas. For more information visit www.bovigen.com or in the U.S., call 877.BEEF.DNA