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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 16, 2000. All rights
Cyanamid on the Block?
For the past five years, ever since American Home
Corporation (AHP) bought American Cyanamid, the agricultural products
division has been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It dropped last
week. Spurned by Warner-Lambert in a buyout bid, American Home Product
Corporations announced it had hired Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to
sell the agricultural products division — located at the corner
of Route 1 and Quakerbridge and Clarksville roads — by the end
of this year.
From its location adjacent to three big shopping malls, you would
think that Cyanamid’s fields of cows and crops are destined to become
one big parking lot, yet the 700 employees at this location hope the
property can be preserved for research work.
At the time it was purchased by AHP, Cyanamid had four lines of
pharmaceutical, over-the-counter drugs, animal health care, and
products. The crop protection business was the odd man out — the
only business unit that did not have a sister company in the AHP
Wyeth Ayerst, which has a pharmaceutical R&D laboratory on Ridge Road,
is now an AHP company, and AHP has an veterinarian division, Fort
Dodge Animal Health Care, based in Kansas City.
"We announced in the middle of last year that we were seeking
alternatives, and we are moving forward to divest it now," says
Lowell B. Weiner, AHP’s spokesperson. He points out that, of the 700
people working at the Route 1 location, 100 of them technically do
research on cows and pigs for Fort Dodge and will stay with AHP. He
does not speculate whether the researchers and their animals will
have to move to Kansas when the facility is sold.
Founded in 1907 to provide the first synthetic fertilizer —
cyanamide — the agricultural products group is now the
crop protection chemical company in the world and the third largest
in the United States. It was the first to introduce herbicide tolerant
cropping systems based on imidazolinone chemistry and is a leader
in this field. A Cyanamid scientist, Marinus Los, pioneered in
chemistry, and now Cyanamid offers a half dozen proprietary products
from this family.
Branded as the Clearfield Production System, this method combines
agronomics, seeds, and herbicides to meet weed control solutions for
farmers. "We have the broadest range of non-transgenic
crops," says spokesperson Suzanne Thompson. Unlike competitors
such as Monsanto and DuPont, Cyanamid owns no seed companies. Instead,
it sells germ plasm containing the herbicide tolerant traits to
producing seed. Among the Clearfield products are corn and canola,
and research continues on wheat and rice.
"Our focus has been on coming up with the right weed control
for the farmer, and we got there quicker with nontransgenic
says Thompson, but she notes that Cyanamid has not abandoned research
using gene therapy. "We are supportive of the transgenic
long term." Last year Cyanamid signed a $60 million multi-year
deal with Hyseq Inc., a California-based biopharmaceutical company,
to use high throughput genomics and bioinformatics for finding new
Morgan Stanley might not have to go out of state to find a buyer.
Among the agricultural chemical companies that could feasibly be
in acquiring American Cyanamid are the FMC Corporation, at Route 1
North and Plainsboro Road, and Rhodia, the French manufacturer with
labs and offices on Prospect Plains Road and Blackhorse Lane.
(AHP), Quakerbridge Road, Box 400, Princeton 08543-0400. Mark W.
Atwood, president, global agricultural products research division.
609-716-2000; fax, 609-275-5234. Home page:
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