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One Out Of 100,000

Gil Gullickson 11/22/2011 @ 6:01pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

The next time you have apply a pesticide to your crops, consider there are at least 99,999 that didn’t make the cut.

That’s how many compounds a chemical company like BASF normally evaluates before finding one that hits the market.

Earlier this month, BASF officials discussed this process at its Global Agricultural Solutions Press Info Day in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Screening starts even before laboratory testing starts.

“We apply certain filters (criteria) when we buy compounds from companies,” says T.W. Newton, a BASF scientist.

Juan Sasturain, a scientist with BASF’s global sustainability and stewardship division, notes the laboratory prescreening starts with 100,000 compounds that gradually winnows down to 100 by the time field trials start. Out of these, one active ingredient eventually makes it to market. The timeline for an active ingredient to pass through this process is eight to 10 years.

Besides efficacy, a product has several other criteria to meet. “We have to show there is no adverse affect on farmers or consumers or the environment,” says Sasturain.

Tests are also conducted as to the compound’s impact on mammals, water organisms, beneficial insects like honeybees, soil organisms, birds, and non-target plants.” We also do studies about where (chemical) residues go,” he says. “

All information is collected and then given to regulators. Typically, it takes two years for regulatory approvals to occur.

Besides taking 10 years to hit the market, a new active ingredient often costs 200 million Euros (over $270 million) to develop.

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