In the public’s eye, companies such as Bayer have too often come under unfair scrutiny because of their adoption of synthetic products as part of their crop protection portfolios. Activists with March Against Monsanto and Stoneyfield and the Environmental Working Group like to remind us of that. But what often goes unsaid is that the Bayers and Monsantos of the world have long been involved in many non-genetically engineered products, too, from seeds to pest controls. Yup, you can buy from “Big Ag” and still grow organically.
Bayer said that it will be unveiling its latest in organic crop protection at this year’s Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting — those products will be huddled under the “Biologicals by Bayer” umbrella brand name.
With farmers (who are adept at finding and choosing the growing method most suitable to their situation) having to contend with up to 10,000 species of insects, 3,000 types of nematodes, and 50,000 diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, it’s no wonder that more companies are adding to the available toolbox rather than trying to limit it.
The Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting is the most important industry meeting for manufacturers of organic pesticides and will take place from Oct. 21 to 23 in Basel, Switzerland. For three days, the focus will be on trends in research and development, innovations in the biologics market and novel biological products for environmentally conscious and sustainable crop protection. The congress is organized by the International Biocontrol Manufacturers’ Association and the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture.
Over the past 10 years, the use of biologicals has increased significantly by approximately 10 to 15 percent every year and is expected to continue growing. There are many reasons for this growth, including innovations that have made new products easier to discover, safer and more effective to use. But one of the main reasons is that biologicals provide another way of controlling pests that few products can match, making them a perfect fit in modern integrated pest management programs: Biologicals have unique modes of action, which helps farmers better manage pest resistance by knocking insects and diseases off their virulent paths.
An important goal for Bayer is to find the right partners to further expand the biologicals market together. In June for example, Bayer and AlphaBio Control signed a distribution agreement to market Flipper, a biological pest control product developed by AlphaBio. Under the terms of this agreement, AlphaBio grants Bayer an almost worldwide exclusive right to commercialize Flipper for agriculture and non-agriculture uses.
“Bayer is committed to reducing agriculture’s ecological footprint through innovation, including biological and low-residue solutions such as Flipper,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division. Bayer is open to foster partnerships with manufacturers of biologicals in order to be able to offer farmers more efficient integrated solutions tailored to their needs, Karl Muenks, Segment Manager Biologicals at Bayer, added.
Innovation will cut the ecological footprint of Bayer’s agricultural portfolio fundamentally by 2030, the company recently said. With its solutions, Bayer will reduce the environmental impact of crop protection by 30 percent without sacrificing yield and the health of the harvest. This will be achieved by developing new technologies that help farmers to scale down crop protection product volumes and enable a more precise application.
Bayer, for example, is partnering with private and public institutions to advance the understanding of the soil microbiome and identify beneficial microbial strains from different environments around the world. As an R&D leader in agricultural seed-applied technologies, Bayer boasts a multidisciplinary team of researchers and scientists who focus solely on biologicals and excel in harnessing the power of beneficial bacteria — creating innovative seed treatment/enhancement products that broaden the choice of agronomic solutions for farmers and also address consumer and environmental needs.
Biological solutions are in particularly high demand in fruit and vegetables, where Bayer is the global market leader. Continued innovation will help ensure that market growth is sustained and that the current global market penetration for biological products from Bayer of over 80 million acres is further expanded.