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US: Bayer CropScience invests in biologics with Agraquest

Bayer CropScience's acquisition of Agraquest in August signaled a big move toward biologics, according to Sarah Reiter, Bayer CropScience's director of global product management for biologics. Agraquest, the maker of seed and biological pest management solutions, fit well with Bayer CropScience's plans to expand the solutions they can offer to growers, and it also fit with Bayer's longer-term goals to expand their footprint in the area of biologics.

“Bayer CropScience will make a $7 billion investment in research and development between now and 2016,” noted Jon Amdursky, a media consultant for Bayer CropScience. “And $5 billion of that will be in research and development for seeds and biological products. So the acquisition of Agraquest is really part of a bigger trend.” That trend involves investing in products that can help growers achieve the best yields in a world of diminishing resources and changing regulations.

“Bayer's chemical portfolio really overlayed nicely with the seeds and biologics from Agraquest,” said Reiter. Because Agraquest's biologics use beneficial microbes to achieve higher crop yields without some of the residues that conventional pesticides have, the move shows the importance of biological crop solutions as well as Bayer's realization of that importance.

“Bayer sees that the move toward longer-term sustainable agriculture is permanent, and our need to produce more food on fewer acres is only getting more pressing as our population increases,” said Reiter. “At the same time, regulators are restricting some of the chemicals growers can use. So growers are trying to produce as much as they can in the most sustainable fashion possible, and biologics open up a way to do that.”

The aim is to combine Agraquests biological tools with the existing conventional offerings Bayer has in order to offer growers a range of options to get the most out of their crops.

“I think this is a trend that people are realizing that biologics have an increasing role in the future of sustainable integrated crop solutions,” said Reiter. “We envision that growers can use our seed technology and biologics crop protection in addition to conventional crop protection to get the most profit out of the growing season.”

Bayer CropScience's $425 million acquisition of Agraquest was completed in August.

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