Monsanto Co. said Wednesday it bought a smaller biotech research company that is developing a technology to kill crop pests while protecting the health of bees.
Monsanto, the world's biggest seed company, did not disclose terms of the deal to buy the company, called Beeologics.
Bees are critical plant pollinators, and public concern has swelled over a recent bee pathology called colony collapse disorder. The disorder causes whole hives of bees to die off, cutting the numbers of insects that naturally pollinate important food crops.
It's still unclear what causes colony collapse disorder, but pesticides have been linked to bee deaths.
Monsanto develops genetically engineered strains of corn and soybeans that grow their own pesticides. The company said it will use Beeologics's technology to develop new crops, but it didn't elaborate.
"Both companies expect that their combined research could provide farmers with novel approaches to the challenges they face," Monsanto said in a statement.
Shares of Monsanto fell $2.07, or 3 percent, to $63.94.