Innovation in many fields – Bayer CropScience
With its global research activities, Bayer CropScience contributes to the development of innovative solutions in the areas of modern crop protection, seed and plant traits, and non-agricultural pest and weed control. This includes, for example, the development of innovative fungicides for use in cereals, potatoes and other large-area crops, as well as in fruit and vegetables. These products control diseases caused by fungal infestation. Further benefits are better storability and longer shelf life of harvested produce. Bayer CropScience will continue to rely on its innovation potential in crop protection in the future: the subgroup plans to launch four new products onto the market between 2012 and 2015, supported by the introduction of new varieties and plant traits in BioScience.
CropScience is refocusing its research and development activities so that it can better respond to the future development of global markets. Bayer CropScience is thus more closely concentrating its activities on the BioScience Business Unit, with its seeds and traits, and on new growth areas in agrochemical research, such as plant health and stress tolerance. BioScience is currently researching optimized plant traits and improved seed in about 60 projects. Here, Bayer CropScience is also relying on research partnerships and collaborations – with currently around 90 ongoing research agreements with public and private partners such as the Australian research institute CSIRO – in order to pool a wide range of expertise. This broad research approach also served as the foundation for last year’s new innovations. Three examples are detailed in the inset below.
We strive to help improve people’s quality of life with innovative products. Thus it is all the more important that they reach the customer efficiently. With the help of new concepts, Bayer CropScience aims to strengthen and improve its distribution and marketing activities along the entire value chain – from seed to shelf.
Focusing on product safety
The safety of our products is very important to us. This applies to both crop protection and to pest, weed and disease control in non-agricultural applications, as well as in plant biotechnology. Bayer CropScience ensures already at the research stage that its activities are compatible with our sustainability approach. As the products are further developed, we subject them to stringent and extensive testing that in turn is regulated by governmental agencies. Our toxicologists evaluate the toxicological properties of the active ingredient and its formulation, while our residue analysts determine how much product residue remains on the plants following proper application and how these amounts can be reduced through washing or processing. Before a product is ultimately introduced to the market, experts conduct numerous further safety tests with regard to its use and environmental behavior, depending on the product area.
Sustainable innovation at Bayer CropScience
GlyTol™: protecting cotton
GlyTol™ technology makes cotton plants resistant to glyphosate herbicides. In addition, we offer two products for the cotton industry that combine different herbicide tolerance technologies for the first time. These contain both GlyTol™ and the LibertyLink™ technologies.
Emesto™: higher yields for potatoes
The new fungicidal seed treatment product Emesto™ (active ingredient: penflufen) is used in potato growing. It features outstanding efficacy against black scurf, a plant disease that impairs the yield and quality of potato harvests. Emesto™ ensures improved quality in potatoes and increases the marketable yield. In August 2011 Bayer CropScience was granted marketing authorization for this product in the United Kingdom – the first registration worldwide. Emesto™ is expected to be registered in a total of more than 30 countries around the world.
Luna™ ensures healthy plants
The Luna™ product family (active ingredient: fluopyram) was developed specifically to combat plant diseases caused by fungal pathogens. It is used in more than 70 different crops, including fruit and vegetables, potatoes and flowers. Luna™ improves the long-term health of plants, as well as the quality and storage suitability of the produce. The product has been available in the United States since February 2012. Bayer CropScience received marketing authorization for Luna™ in Germany in April 2012. Further authorizations are to follow in 2012.
Bayer CropScience observes the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [ 103 ]
. The principles of this code cover the entire life cycle of a product, from its development to its application and beyond. Bayer CropScience implements all major aspects of responsible product handling in its Product Stewardship Program. This program adheres to the basic principles of our Product Stewardship Policy
, which we have spelled out in a brochure.
With its commitment to the FAO Code and its Product Stewardship Policy, Bayer CropScience also meets the requirements of the responsible marketing approach described in our new Group position.
Even beyond its core business, Bayer CropScience participates in projects targeted at added product stewardship. We are a member of the Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI) [ 105 ]
and the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification system (ISCC) [ 106 ]
, which work on behalf of sustainable sugarcane cultivation in Brazil. We also take part in the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) [ 107 ]
in the context of our efforts to bring about sustainable soybean production.
Responsibility for customers and partners
A central aspect of product stewardship at Bayer CropScience is the support we provide to our customers and partners – such as farmers, dealers and medical personnel – in the proper and safe use of our products. Crop protection products in particular must be used extremely carefully. We organize targeted training programs to help ensure that our products are applied in a way that is effective and safe for users, the environment and consumers. Furthermore, we provide our customers with handbooks explaining the safe use, storage and disposal of all of our products.
We train farmers around the world in the proper use of Bayer products and the correct way to wear protective clothing and practice sustainable waste disposal. For example, in 2011 we organized training and information events in India at which we demonstrated the safe use of crop protection products to more than 1.2 million participants. Bayer CropScience also continued its AgroVida program in South and Central America. Since the 1990s we have implemented various initiatives in this region to increase farmers’ safety awareness and specialist expertise. In Colombia we again trained some 13,000 farmers in 2011. As part of the AgroVida (Agro Vida Banao) program, Bayer CropScience instructed farmers in the Sancti Spiritus region of Cuba in new methods for the integrated cultivation of onions. In all we trained about 13,500 farmers in the Central America and Caribbean region (excluding Mexico) in 2011.
We are also active in the improvement of technical solutions: in Europe, we drove forward the optimization and implementation of sowing machines to provide better protection for users and the environment. The company’s range of educational programs for product stewardship is rounded out by internal employee training measures. Bayer CropScience provides information on how to deal with herbicide resistances through its integrated weed management brochure [ 110 ]. This approach includes important tools and strategies for farmers such as crop rotation, crop practices and field hygiene, and the use of herbicides with different principles of action.
Gradual replacement of WHO Class I pesticides
In streamlining its portfolio, Bayer CropScience continually launches onto the market crop protection solutions with better environmental properties – for example by introducing new active ingredients, formulations, products, application technologies and types of packaging. We discontinued the sale of crop protection products containing endosulfan worldwide at the end of 2010. In the course of our portfolio streamlining process, we discontinued the marketing of nematicidal end products based on fenamiphos and ethoprophos, and of aldicarb-based products.
Bayer launches global Bee Care Program
To further promote the health of bees, Bayer has started a worldwide Bee Care Program. As part of the program in 2012, two bee care centers, one in Monheim, Germany, and the other in North Carolina, United States, will be developed. These will serve as scientific and communication platforms and combine Bayer’s extensive bee health experience and expertise under one roof. This includes existing and future bee health projects carried out in collaboration with external partners such as the development of new bee drugs. We will also continue to work with research institutes around the world on matters of bee health and participate in various working groups on bee safety, such as the ICPBR Bee Protection Group.
Bee health and plant protection
Bees play a key role in the pollination of many flowering plants and are an essential component of many ecosystems. The promotion of bee health [ 109 ]
worldwide is, therefore, an important task for everyone, whether they are beekeepers, farmers, politicians, businesses or gardeners. For a company like Bayer, which is involved in agriculture and animal health, the safety and health of bees is very important: many agricultural crops require the pollination services of bees and this is therefore an important component of sustainable agriculture.
Although the number of colonies worldwide has been increasing for decades, in some countries, particularly in Europe and North America, a decrease has been observed. Bayer supports scientific research into the causes of this decrease. Among the scientific literature some publications have recently appeared that link a decrease in bee populations with crop protection agents. These studies were, however, performed completely or partly under unrealistic conditions and therefore cannot be applied to real-life practice. Scientists around the world agree that bee diseases, particularly caused by the Varroa mite, extreme environmental and climatic factors and also changes in the agricultural landscape in recent years are the main factors affecting bee health. The hypothesis that pesticides play a significant role is refuted by a number of scientific studies and monitoring.
Focusing on sustainability
Scientists from renowned research institutes met in September 2011 with representatives from Bayer CropScience to exchange experiences at the German Climate-KIC Center in Berlin. In addition to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national research organization, representatives from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) and the German geo-research center GEZ also participated in the event. The purpose of the meeting was to present the first results of a research collaboration between CSIRO and Bayer CropScience aimed at determining the sustainability of new plant technologies and cultivation systems. Initially scheduled to run for two years, the project will aim to develop and apply methods for predicting the environmental balance of new-generation cereals and their positive contribution to food security.
To prevent erroneous applications of pesticides, as regrettably occurred in 2008 on the Upper Rhine in Baden-Wuerttemberg, when faultily treated corn seed resulted in bee losses, we conduct extensive product stewardship measures. To ensure an excellent seed dressing quality of our products, a multi-step quality program for seed dressing was developed at our Seed Treatment Application Center in Monheim.
Bayer is also working closely with users worldwide (farmers, employees of seed treating companies) to ensure that sustainable, prudent and appropriate application practices minimize unwanted dust drift during sowing. We want to ensure that the procedures for drift reduction, developed by Bayer and the agricultural machinery industry, set the standard across Europe.
Bayer is in a unique position in our industry since, through Bayer Animal Health, we have been actively researching and promoting bee health for over 25 years. As a result, we have an excellent understanding of the environmental and biotic challenges, such as pathogens, invasive species and lack of nutrition. These are increasingly having an impact on bee health and are leading to the decline of bee populations in some parts of Europe and the United States.
One of the main causes of honey bee losses is the Varroa mite. This parasite infects both adults and the offspring and leads to a dangerous weakening of the bees. Since 2010 Bayer has underscored its commitment to combatting Varroa mites with a new product. It is currently being developed further. More recently, we have been investigating methods of ensuring that hives which are Varroa-free are not “re-infested” by parasitized bees from other hives. A thorough evaluation of these is currently under way.
Bayer is also promoting the cultivation of nectar and pollen-rich areas on farms and in urban communities. The benefits of such bee-friendly areas have been demonstrated at the Bayer site in Monheim and also at research farms, for example, in Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States. This concept will be developed further in 2012.
Information and dialogue through the communication of bee health is also critical to raise awareness among all stakeholders, from beekeepers to farmers and from politicians to gardeners.
In 2011 we published a new bee brochure [ 111 ] and promoted bee health with politicians and officials in Brussels, Belgium, and Washington, D.C., United States, and have been conveying our approach to bee health at high-profile meetings such as the Apimondia International Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Genetically modified rice
In 2006 traces of genetically modified rice from Bayer CropScience were identified in the long-grain rice harvest in the United States. A number of countries – including particularly E.U. states – subsequently imposed import restrictions although the rice did not present a risk to food safety.
The genetically modified rice was never commercialized. Since then, rice growers and rice mills in particular have claimed economic losses in numerous lawsuits. Bayer last year initiated a settlement program with a volume of up to US$750 million to resolve claims submitted by growers. The participation rate will be in excess of 94 percent of all of the eligible rice acreage. Bayer has already paid out a large portion of the settlement volume. Bayer also settled several claims filed by rice mills or rice importers, as well as the claims negotiated so far with growers, at a total settlement value of about US$143 million.
18 cases remain pending in the United States with business entities that are not a part of the settlement program. Bayer is hopeful that many of these cases can also be settled. However, Bayer intends to continue to defend itself vigorously in all cases in which reasonable resolutions are not possible. Insurance coverage against such risks is not available. Bayer has established appropriate provisions in the balance sheet. The case was thoroughly investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and no misconduct by Bayer was determined. Bayer continuously assesses and improves these processes, however, taking into account continuous scientific advances.