From Green Algea to Black Gold

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"Energy investment temps agricultural giant."

Another giant company, Monsanto, has put its money behind a startup with plans to turn algae into energy. The investment fits a couple major trends that include energy but also extend far beyond it.

Big companies are throwing around piles of cash on which they've been sitting, either to help entrepreneurs develop technologies of the future, or to buy smaller companies that have already developed promising technology.

In the energy field, giant players like Exxon-Mobil and Shell have also invested in algae companies in the past. Many believe that manipulating genes in certain forms of algae could yield a plant that yields the equivalent of crude oil.

So is Monsanto coming late to the game after the oil companies have taken all the best picks? Or is the agriculture technology giant better at making those picks, given its long history of knowing exactly how crops work?

In any case, Monsanto has followed most major oil companies by partnering with Sapphire Energy, a company founded in 2007 and interested in manipulating genes to grow algae that can be turned into biofuel. It's the gene manipulation part that most interests Monsanto, the company said in a press release.

And there's little surprise in that, since Monsanto has long been a pioneer in manipulation of genes for crops like cotton, soybeans and corn.

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