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Bayer CropScience stepping up seed and trait investments

New investments in seeds and traits were on the minds of Bayer
CropScience executives during Bayer’s Ag Issues Forum at this month’s Commodity
Classic in Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s some of what was on their minds:

·     

Bayer is increasing its emphasis on seeds and trait
technologies while streamlining its crop protection portfolio. For example, it
is phasing out its
most acutely toxic
pesticides--all remaining World Health Organization (WHO) class I products--by
the end of 2012.

Soybeans
will benefit from this shift. Bayer CropScience entered the soybean business in
2011 by buying Hornbeck Seeds, a Dewitt, Arkansas,
soybean,
rice, and wheat seed company.
“We want high quality (soybean) varieties in combination
with better traits,” says
Mathias Kramer, Head of Global BioScience for Bayer
CropScience.

Bayer will work to develop desirable soybean characteristics
like decreased
shattering potential and better oil quality. “We also are working
on game-changing soybean cyst nematode (SCN) control to deliver higher yields,”
he adds.

Bayer may not be done buying seed companies. “I cannot be more
specific, but we are constantly looking for attractive options to enlarge our
seed portfolio,” says Lykele van der Broek, chief operating officer for Bayer
CropScience.

·     

Bayer is working on a new corn rootworm trait
with a new mode of action that differs from current control
measures. No commercialization date has been set, say company officials.

·     

Bayer is increasing efforts to deal with the impact of
climate change.

“We see shifts in disease and insect patterns,” says van der Broek.
The good news is Bayer products used for pest control in some areas also will
work in new areas where pests surface, he says.

Improved varietal breeding will also help crops deal with changing
climate. “We are improving crops to withstand extreme weather, whether it is
heat, drought, or saline tolerance or more efficient uptake of nutrients,” says
van der Broek.

·     

European resistance to transgenic technology is not
relenting. The European Union (EU) has relaxed rules allowing the importation
of foods produced under transgenic technology.

“Unfortunately, there is not much
progress or interest for the cultivation of biotech traits,” says van der
Broek. “I find it disappointing for European growers that they are at a
competitive disadvantage to other places where they (transgenic crops) can be
grown. I’m sure Europe will see the light, but it will take longer than we have
hoped for.”

 

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