Chemical Companies Take Note Of Biologicals

Vern Hawkins

Perusing recent headlines, a definite trend has emerged in the crop protection business. The giant ag chemical companies are very much interested in biological products. Consider:

In August, Bayer CropScience completed its purchase of Davis, CA-based AgraQuest Inc., a global supplier of innovative biological pest management solutions. The purchase price was approximately $500 million. This acquisition will enable Bayer CropScience to build a leading technology platform for biological crop protection solutions and pump up its fruit and vegetable portfolio, while also opening new opportunities in other crops and markets. Biologics control a broad spectrum of pests and diseases and offer farmers integrated pest management programs to minimize resistance and maximize crop yields.

AgraQuest is now part of Bayer CropScience’s crop protection business, and the former CEO of AgraQuest, Marcus Meadows-Smith, is now Head of Strategic Business Management Biologics. He explained that Bayer CropScience is integrating their former research and development team, and breaking down traditional silos looking for synergies between the areas of chemicals and biologicals. The company is planning on increasing spending on R&D, and between 2011 to 2016 Bayer CropScience plans to invest $5 billion euros. Half of that will be on seeds and biologics, half on novel chemical crop protection. Part of the change is not only internal, said Meadows-Smith, it’s how they view growers. “The old model for biologics was based in organic, so you had to use them by themselves,” he said. “Today it is an integrated solutions approach, completely different.”

Meadows-Smith said growers will be changing the way they view these new products. In the past, biological materials were on the soft side. But today’s products will offer very, very good control, in part because they are
not wholly dependent on biological ingredients. “This mixture of chemistry plus biological will give growers better yields and higher quality, which is particularly encouraging for those who want to enter lucrative export markets,” he said.

In late September, Pasteuria Bioscience, which is based in Florida, announced that it would be acquired by Syngenta. In 2011, Syngenta and Pasteuria Bioscience entered into a global exclusive technology partnership to produce nematode control products based on Pasteuria spp., a naturally-occurring soil bacteria long recognized as a promising biological control agent against nematodes. The first products resulting from this relationship will be available in 2014. Under terms of the agreement, Syngenta will acquire Pasteuria Bioscience for aggregate payments of $86 million, plus up to $27 million in deferred payments.

“Biologicals are getting more prominent, especially in Europe, and there’s an increasing emphasis on environmental stewardship,” Vern Hawkins, president of Syngenta Crop Protection, said in a speech at October’s annual meeting of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers. “Stewardship is not optional any more in fruits and vegetables.”

In an interview later, Hawkins said he definitely expects Syngenta to keep more biological companies on the radar screen as both grocery chains and consumers continue to focus on such issues as the environment and food safety. “We see the evolution of this technology changing agriculture, especially the production of fruits and vegetables, where consumer preferences continue to develop,” he said. “Look at Europe, where protocols are emerging for growers. Growers will need some level of control without chemicals, which means biologicals.”

In late November, (just prior to press time) BASF completed the acquisition of Becker Underwood from Norwest Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity investment company, for a purchase price of $1.02 billion. With the acquisition, BASF has expanded its product portfolio in the area of biological crop protection. “The acquisition fits very well with our long-term growth strategy,” said Andreas Kreimeyer, research executive director, in a press release. “It will provide our customers with an even broader range of innovative solutions for agriculture. And it also provides our new colleagues with access to BASF’s global R&D platform as well as new markets and customers.” 

For more on biologicals, click on the additional page.

Pages: 1 2

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusAnti-GMO-Fueled Threats Force Reallocation Of Biotech Education Funds
August 27, 2015
University of Florida officials say plans are to re-allocate a donation intended to improve the public’s understanding of science after Read More
money
CitrusMonsanto Drops Current Bid For Syngenta Acquisition
August 27, 2015
Even with a revised proposal that sweetened the pot to $46.2 billion, financial expectations still fall flat. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia’s Citrus Growers Face More Challenges Than Huanglongbing
August 27, 2015
As a kid growing up we all remember the arrival of Barnum & Bailey’s circus. The ads, the posters, the Read More
Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg
CitrusCounting Down The Top U.S. Colleges For Natural Resources And Conservation
August 25, 2015
STEM-fueled area of study presents wide field of opportunity for future grads. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusMedical Marijuana Endeavor Anything But Pipe Dream For Florida Nurseries
August 20, 2015
While applicants await fate for one of the five available licenses to weave ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ best-case-scenarios play out. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Farmers Feted For Water Quality Standards
August 20, 2015
Marking 20 straight years of success, producers help Everglades Agricultural Area exceed phosphorus reduction goals. Read More
The Latest
CitrusGMOs Might Be The Solution To Invasive Diseases [Opinio…
August 30, 2015
Huanglongbing is ravaging Florida’s iconic oranges and California's are at risk; we should not just stand by and watch the U.S. citrus industry dry up. Read More
CitrusMany HLB Finds In California
August 30, 2015
Scientists always said it was just a matter of time, but having an incurable disease like Huanglongbing infect the state’s citrus is jarring. Read More
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusAnti-GMO-Fueled Threats Force Reallocation Of Biotech E…
August 27, 2015
University of Florida officials say plans are to re-allocate a donation intended to improve the public’s understanding of science after Read More
money
CitrusMonsanto Drops Current Bid For Syngenta Acquisition
August 27, 2015
Even with a revised proposal that sweetened the pot to $46.2 billion, financial expectations still fall flat. Read More
Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg
CitrusCounting Down The Top U.S. Colleges For Natural Resourc…
August 25, 2015
STEM-fueled area of study presents wide field of opportunity for future grads. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusMedical Marijuana Endeavor Anything But Pipe Dream For …
August 20, 2015
While applicants await fate for one of the five available licenses to weave ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ best-case-scenarios play out. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Farmers Feted For Water Quality Standards
August 20, 2015
Marking 20 straight years of success, producers help Everglades Agricultural Area exceed phosphorus reduction goals. Read More
old world bollworm climbing on vegetation
CitrusOld World Bollworm A Potential New Pain For Florida Far…
August 20, 2015
Growers in the Sunshine State on high alert as serious pest is detected for the first time in the U.S. outside of port interceptions. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Pour $20 Million Into Frozen Orange Juice
August 20, 2015
Section 32 bonus purchase program money to help move mountain of surplus inventory. Read More
CitrusMaps Show Impending Impact From WOTUS
August 19, 2015
Plots indicate expansion of EPA’s reach across Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Montana. Read More
branches covered in ice
CitrusWicked Winter Coming This Way Says Latest Farmer’s Alma…
August 17, 2015
Super El Niño-influenced weather patterns align to paint a less-than-pretty portrait. Read More
dripping orange
CitrusFeeling The Squeeze, Florida Citrus Taking Stock Of Fut…
August 12, 2015
A look back on the 2014-2015 citrus season reveals major economic questions, concerns. Read More
man trying to prevent from being boxed in by boxes
CitrusEconomic Progress A Threat To Box In Agriculture [Opini…
August 11, 2015
For growers, buffer zones, noise ordinances, nutrient runoff concerns, and sinkhole threats all are factors heightened with nearby neighbors. Instead of trying to beat them, why not join them? Read More
CitrusAlico Bucks Trend Related To Current Citrus Struggles
August 10, 2015
Despite the 2014-2015 season yielding smallest crop in nearly 50 years, Florida-based company boasts marked growth in harvest, sales. Read More
Keith Jones
CitrusBiopesticide Industry Alliance Names Keith Jones As New…
August 10, 2015
The Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) announced its selection of Keith Jones as its new executive director. Mr. Jones is an Read More
Immokalee< FL, Farm and Grove aerial view
CitrusFlorida Farmland Remains Hot Commodity
August 5, 2015
Recent multimillion-dollar deal involving Immokalee citrus grove is among several high-acreage, high-dollar transactions. Read More
CitrusResearchers Say Drones Will Play A Major Role In Farmin…
August 4, 2015
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers say the technology will offer growers precise information about their crops. Read More