Industry News    |   Posts    |   Vol. 2 Issue 3   

People News

Bayer CropScience Vegetable Seeds has announced changes to its management team. Frank Claessens will replace Vicente Navarro as the new managing director operations. Claessens began his career with Vegetable Seeds in 1989 as a research analyst in seed technology, after which he took on various leadership positions in quality assurance and then in seed processing, both within operations. In 2011 he was appointed global head of supply chain. Navarro will replace Ko Remijnse as managing director marketing and sales. Navarro began his career in 1985 as product manager and was responsible for the vegetable seed business in Spain. He held several management positions in marketing and sales before he was promoted to global head of marketing in 2005. In 2011, he became part of the management of vegetable seeds as managing director strategy and staff functions and assumed the responsibility of managing director operations and strategy in 2013. Since 2013, he is also chairman of the vegetable and ornamental crops section of the International Seed Federation.

Dutch seedsman Simon Groot receives the prestigious Mansholt Business Award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in recognition of his contribution to the vegetable farming sector in the tropics over the last three decades. Groot is the founder of East-West Seed, a 33-year old company that has played an important role in the development and improvement of tropical vegetable varieties in Southeast Asia and beyond. “Our world is dominated by small scale farmers. What we do is add value to their labour and land. We have worked hard to create better genetics in tropical vegetable crops, using plant breeding technologies that have been successful for centuries in the West where I came from,” says Groot. The company bridges the gap in farmer extension and technology transfer, responding to the changing economic and social conditions in agriculture-based developing countries.

Ketty Nilsson has been appointed as president at NoroGard AB, a leading producer of seed treatment machinery in Sweden. Nilsson has previous experience of business development in the railway industry, and joined NoroGard as marketing director in March 2014. Nilsson is also joining Norogard as a co-owner and member of the board.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) names Bethany Shively as its new director of communications. Shively comes to ASTA from the National Association of Conservation Districts where she led the association’s communications efforts for the past five years. As director of communications for ASTA, Shively will work with ASTA’s staff and the association’s leadership to promote the seed industry’s regulatory and legislative positions, as well as its many initiatives to support education and research, careers in the seed industry, and the quality management, movement and stewardship of seed.

Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the International Rice Genebank, joins the secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to bolster the implementation of the treaty. An evolutionary biologist with four decades of experience in plant genetic resources, Hamilton will share his deep scientific expertise as head of the gene bank, maintained by the International Rice Research Institute, to strengthen the global information system on plant genetic resources under the Treaty and its multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, which covers — in addition to rice — 34 crops and 29 forages. The multilateral system seeks to facilitate access to plant genetic resources for conservation and use in research, breeding, and training, guided by global food security goals and to ensure that resulting benefits are shared equitably. Hamilton will help develop options for improving the instruments that enable the fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources.

The Stockton Group, an international crop protection company has appointed Yaakov (Kobi) Inbar as vice-president of Research and Development. In his new role, Inbar will be adding his expertise and knowledge to further the development of STK’s pipeline, leading the company’s efforts on a global scale, new growth opportunities and commercialisation. “We are pleased to have Kobi join our executive team. He possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in the crop protection market and we look forward to his future contributions to the business,” said Ziv Tirosh, CEO of the Stockton Group. “I am confident that Kobi will continue to strengthen our strategic plans and continue to drive the development of our internal pipeline.”

Kaiima Bio-Agritech, an Israel-based genetics and breeding technology company has appointed board member Richard Greubel to the position of chief executive officer. Greubel most recently worked as president of the human nutrition and health division for DSM, a leading supplier of nutritional ingredients to the pharma, food and feed industries. “Rick brings extensive experience and knowledge of not only the seed technology side, but of the entire ag-food industry sector; his broad experience makes him a perfect fit to lead Kaiima’s global business,” said Jeffrey Beard, chairman of Kaiima. “Rick will succeed current CEO, Doron Gal, who led Kaiima since its inception, and who we’re delighted to announce has agreed to remain with the company in a new role as president, Kaiima Bio-Agritech.”

Business News

Global crop solutions specialist, Koppert Biological Systems has acquired Certis Europe beneficial organisms business in the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Certis will continue to sell its beneficial organism products elsewhere and develop integrated crop protection programmes for its customers in its other markets. “The acquisition of Certis Europe’s beneficials sales business in the UK, France and Italy, fits in well with our long-term strategy to further develop biological solutions for these important agricultural and horticultural countries,” says Koppert Biological Systems’ managing director, Henri Oosthoek. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Koppert Biological Systems produces environmentally sustainable natural solutions for agriculture and horticulture.

Seed enhancement company Incotec has opened a second production facility in China. The new facility is in Tianjin City and will concentrate on the production of Incotec’s film coats for vegetable and field crops seeds for the Chinese seed market. The new facility in Tianjin City has greater production capacity than the Beijing location and is better able to manage the increasing production requirements of Incotec China. This specific location was chosen because it is ideally situated in one of China’s Economic and Technological Development zones appointed by the authorities.

After recently announcing it plans to divest its flowers seeds business Syngenta has announced it will divest its global vegetable seeds business in an effort to boost shareholder value creation. The company also announced its intention to return ‘significant levels’ of capital to shareholders through a share repurchase program. The initial program of more than $2 billion will commence in the coming weeks. This will be in addition to the dividend policy which the company has followed for several years. “By demonstrating and unlocking the inherent worth of our leading global seeds portfolio we can create significant additional value. I look forward to updating shareholders in the coming months on progress, including providing further visibility on the underlying profitability of our portfolio of assets,” said Syngenta CEO Mike Mack in a statement.

KoSSIL has opened its new research facilities at IDA Bollaram near Hyderabad, India. KoSSIL is the joint venture company of Koppert B.V. with joint shareholding of Koppert Biological Systems India (Private) Limited and the Devanur family. Within the new research centre new products will be manufactured, including biostimulants, natural botanical products and microbials for pest and disease management for both local and international markets.

Agrinos, a leading biological crop input provider committed to improving the productivity and sustainability of agriculture worldwide, is pleased to announce a new partnership with Indian seed and crop care product provider Zuari Agri Sciences Ltd. The partnership increases the availability of Agrinos’ unique and proprietary High Yield Technology (HYT) biological crop solutions to Indian farmers. Zuari Agri Sciences, which will sell Chemfree powered by Agrinos’ HYT B product, is recognised as a leader in the Indian market, working with 6,000 distributors and dealers and 23 million farmers whose crops include wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables. “Agrinos is pleased to align with a reputable organisation like Zuari as we strive to market with strong, established partners in India and other geographies worldwide,” said Indranil Das, managing director of Agrinos India. “This opportunity will allow us to continue strengthening our local presence and offering our effective, globally proven and certified biological crop input solutions to Indian growers.”

FMC Corporation has announced that it will establish a European regional headquarters and research facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. The new FMC European Innovation Center (EIC), expected to open in 2016, will serve as a central hub for research and development, regional corporate functions and regional commercial teams. “FMC has a larger presence in Europe today with our recent acquisition of Cheminova,” said Pierre Brondeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman. “The European Innovation Center will enhance our ability to collaborate with customers and suppliers throughout the region, and ensure that we fulfill the growth potential of our newly combined company.” The new facility will bring together employees who currently work at sites throughout Europe and the U.S., including employees in research, sales, marketing, regional management, finance, supply chain, human resources and related functions.

Keygene N.V. and Floragenex Inc. have entered into an extended license agreement around KeyGene’s Sequence Based Genotyping (SBG) technology. The agreement enables Floragenex to extend its SBG service offerings to include ddRAD-Seq in non-commercial and academic research across all species. The agreement further cements KeyGene’s SBG technology licensing portfolio and advances Floragenex’s position as a services leader in fractional genomic sequencing applications. “Floragenex’ expertise, professionalism and impressive track record with RAD-Seq across a wide range of genomes logically fit with a broader portfolio of SBG service offerings. This will accelerate the understanding of genetic variation in plants, animals and other organisms in a highly cost-efficient manner,” said Michiel van Eijk, CSO of KeyGene.

Michigan’s Neogen Corporation has acquired the stock of United Kingdom-based Lab M Holdings, a developer, manufacturer and supplier of microbiological culture media and diagnostic systems. “The combination of Lab M’s quality products with our Acumedia product line will make Neogen a leading global company in the traditional microbiology market, as well as give us new tools we can incorporate into our food safety diagnostics to enhance our products,” says James Herbert, Neogen’s CEO and chairman. Lab M is headquartered in an accredited facility in Heywood, England, near Manchester. Neogen will maintain Lab M’s current facility, and its operations will be managed by Neogen’s Scotland-based Neogen Europe subsidiary.

Norwich Research Park has officially welcomed one of the world’s leading independent seed technology businesses, Germains Seed Technology, to their brand new state-of-the-art laboratory. The laboratory accommodates senior members of Germains’ Research and Development team with a strategic focus on the science of seed priming and crop development. “We are delighted Germains Seed Technology has chosen Norwich Research Park as a location to further research seed priming and crop development. This reinforces our global position in creating a unique cluster of business and research organisations with world-leading science credentials,” said Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive officer at Norwich Research Park.

Industry News

The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) welcomes its first industry members — Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer. “To better facilitate communication between the seed testing industry and the producers and distributors of seed, ISTA recently began offering an Industry Membership option,” says ISTA secretary general Beni Kaufman. ISTA’s mission is to bring uniformity in seed testing. The category of Industry Member aims to further engage the seed industry, streamline communication and in the process, expand the association’s activities. “It is an honour to see that two of the main pillars of the seed industry are committed to support the association” says Kaufman. “At DuPont Pioneer, we see this new membership category as an opportunity to move international seed trade testing toward standardisation — whether physiological, genetic and trait purity, or physical properties — which is important to maintain the integrity of the global seed trade,” said Jeremy Bergstrom, DuPont Pioneer global quality testing manager. “I believe further industry collaboration/communication using these industry memberships as a platform help influence seed testing rules and expedite the acceptance of newer, more precise seed testing technologies,” says Bergstrom.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded $2.3M to the Two Blades Foundation (2Blades), a charitable organisation that supports the development of durable disease resistance in crop plants and their deployment in agriculture. Four well-recognised research teams will investigate plant immunity in the United States and Europe. Jeff Dangl (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Brian Staskawicz (University of California, Berkeley), Jonathan Jones (Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK) and Detlef Weigel (Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany) will lead the project at their world-class research institutions. The research teams will focus on three agricultural plant systems found worldwide: Brassicas (mustard greens and their relatives), which are important model organisms in plant biology; nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes and their relatives); and domesticated wheat and related species. “This undertaking is made possible by the key technology developed in the Sainsbury Laboratory,” said Roger Freedman, chairman of 2Blades. “The aim overall is to provide fundamental information on how plants evolve to resist pathogens and ward off disease.” As part of the project, the teams will develop a publicly available database containing sequence information on the plant species investigated. This open-access database will help other scientists and agricultural agencies around the world improve disease resistance in plants and better help address food security.

Farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings subsequently use less insecticide to control pests on oilseed rape, according to new research published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. But the study also demonstrated that more honey-bee colonies were lost as the usage of imidacloprid, a first generation neonicotinoid, increased. The study showed, for the first time, that farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings reduced the number of foliar insecticide sprays used to control pests on oilseed rape. Farmers using neonicotinoids also saw significant yield benefits, but not in all years. Giles Budge, head of Crop Science and lead author of the study said, “Our data indicate that farmers who used neonicotinoid seed coatings often had positive economic returns driven by an increase in yield, but this was not always the case. We now need to understand why neonicotinoid use does not always result in increased profitability for farmers to help target appropriate use to those situations where farmers see the most benefit.”

An international research team has some good news for the honeybee and the millions of people who depend on them to pollinate crops and other plants. These valuable pollinators have faced colony losses over the past decade, largely due to the spread of a predatory mite called the Varroa mite. But the bees might not be in as dire a state as it seems, according to research recently published in Nature Communications. Researchers found a population of wild bees from around Ithaca, New York, which is as strong today as ever, despite the mites invading the region in the mid-1990s.

Valued at $4.82 billion in 2014, the global seed treatment market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8 per cent by 2020, according to a recently released report from research firm, MarketsandMarkets. The “Seed Treatment Market — Global Trends & Forecast to 2020” report said North America led the global seed treatment market in 2014, with the U.S. as a major producer. With regard to the application of seed treatment, Latin America was second and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.1 per cent by 2020. The expected growth in the seed treatment market is tied to the increasing global population and food requirements, rise in cost of fertilisers and pesticides, and easier residue management. The leading players in the market include Syngenta AG in Switzerland; Bayer CropScience AG and BASF SE, both in Germany; Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd in Japan; Nufarm Ltd. in Australia; and Platform Specialty Products Ltd. in the U.S.

Product News

Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., a provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf and ornamental and water treatment markets has announced that its Grandevo bioinsecticide has received a completeness determination from the European Commission and is now cleared to begin the evaluation for Annex 1 listing and commercialisation in the European Union. A recent policy decision by the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority and a Working Group of EU Member States, has allowed Grandevo to be evaluated as a microbial pesticide. Until this recent EU decision, only pesticides containing live microbes could be evaluated under EU regulation. “Receiving this completeness determination for Grandevo from the Netherlands is an important step in making the potential benefits of new biopesticide products available to growers throughout the EU,” said Keith Pitts, MBI’s vice-president of Regulatory and Government Affairs.

Bayer CropScience has reached an important milestone towards the market introduction of its biological insecticide Requiem in Europe. Its active ingredient Terpenoid Blend QRD 460 has been recently approved by the European Commission. For growers and the entire food value chain, Requiem provides control of sucking pests and extends quality of harvested produce. First registrations of Requiem are expected in some European countries before end of 2016. Market launch in Europe is planned for 2017. “Requiem is the latest innovation from Bayer CropScience in the field of biological insecticides and an important addition to integrated pest management (IPM) programs in greenhouse vegetables,” said Gilles Chevallier, global product management of biological insecticides at Bayer CropScience. “Its mode of action is effective against sucking pests, especially thrips, whiteflies, aphids and mites, leading to healthier crops and better-quality produce.”

Incotec Europe has succeeded in further reducing dust-off in the witloof (chicory) pellet product line. The products have been successfully marketed since January 2014, but a recent breakthrough has enabled these improvements. Adjustments in the production process, including application of the finishing layer, have reduced dust by 50 per cent. An added advantage is the smoother surface making the pellet easier to process. As well as reduced dust and easier processing, the witloof (chicory) pelleting gives all the quality enhancements you can expect from seeds pelleted by Incotec.

Web and APP News

EU Regulators and Food Suppliers Can Now Access Online GM Crop Database

The IPAFEED database is an EU-funded MARLON project, which contains searchable data for monitoring possible health impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops on livestock animals. The project seeks to help regulators and the food supply chain to ensure that any health risk is identified early and effectively. The MARLON project focused on bringing knowledge on GM crops in animal feed. The IPAFEED database contains information from scientific papers with detailed descriptions of each study, accessible results and links to sources. The database was regularly updated throughout the project, which was completed last July. Researchers have also collated information on animal health indicators. Tools and guidelines to help monitor the health of animals exposed to GM feed have been developed as well. The positive news for both regulators and European agriculture is that data collected from controlled short-term, long-term and multi-generational feeding trials have revealed that no adverse health effects have been caused by GM feed on animals, with some studies even detecting positive effects.

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