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Agricultural pesticides face rigorous route to market

Gil Gullickson 09/10/2010 @ 2:42pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

The odds are stacked against a molecule on its way to making it as an agricultural pesticide on the market.

“It’s very difficult to get a compound to market, but it is not impossible,” says Leonardo Pitta, a scientist with Bayer CropScience who works with agricultural insecticides. “We are constantly finding new molecules.”

Bayer CropScience scientists and officials are giving agricultural media across the world a look at their research facilities in Monheim am Rhein, Germany, this week. In the case of agricultural insecticide, for example, just 15 compounds eventually make it to the field out of the 1 million that start a high throughput screening process.

Handling these many compounds requires extensive storage. Bayer officials showed agricultural media a storage area in which they can store 3.5 million compounds in up to 8 million vials that they can call upon for further testing. Bayer uses robotic technology to further test these compounds as some pass onto greenhouse and field testing.


Four factors

Finding new active ingredients is difficult because products must face extensive tests in making it to market. A new active ingredient for products like agricultural insecticides must have:

  • Efficacy. “It must kill the bugs,” says Pitta.
  • User friendliness. New active ingredients must have good formulation qualities and be easy for users to handle.
  • Environmental compatibility. New compounds must quickly degrade in the environment and have little or no leaching into the soil.
  • Favorable economic aspects. This includes a favorable cost/benefit ratio.

A crop protection compound that makes it to market has 10 years  going into developing and testing it. Developing a new crop protection agent with the necessary chemistry, biology, and environmental/toxicology tests can cost up to 200 million euros (approximately $254 million), say Bayer officials.

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