BASF and Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa) officially launched the Cultivance Production System, a milestone for Brazilian science, as it contains the first genetically modified soybean fully developed in Brazil. The technology was approved by the European Union, a major import market, at the end of the first half of this year. This has made it possible to start production of seeds for making the system available to the market.

As a result of the partnership between BASF and Embrapa that stretches back more than ten years, the Cultivance Production System combines four genetically modified soybean cultivars with considerable genetic potential and the use of Soyvance Pré, a broad-spectrum herbicide for controlling large leaf and grass weeds, thereby creating a new production system. Starting in 2016, new cultivars should be launched that will expand cultivation areas to meet the demand of farmers who would like to use the new system to manage weeds.

The two companies invested US$ 33 million into developing the system, including - along with the herbicide - genetic improvement, scientific studies conducted in laboratories to confirm food safety of the new soybean and field studies to support the worldwide registration process.

Cultivance was developed to meet the needs of all regions of the country and will be available to seed producers for the 2015/16 harvest, but will be marketed in eight states in Brazil this first year: Paraná, Minhas Gerais, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Bahia, Goiás and Rondônia, and in the Federal District. Field demonstrations at technical events and regional launchings of cultivars are planned in the areas indicated for all materials. In addition to seed producers, about 150 farmers have been selected to access the technology this first year. After familiarizing themselves with the materials under field conditions, the farmers will be able to request seeds for the 2016/2017 harvest. The seeds will be marketed by seed producers licensed under the Embrapa Partnership System and through distributors accredited under the National Seed and Seedling Production System.

For the chairman of Embrapa, Mauricio Antônio Lopes, the technology is reaching the market at just the right time: “We estimate that resistance to existing technologies has spread to about 30% of the soy cultivation area, making our technology a very interesting and viable option from the point of view of managing resistance,” Lopes stated.

And for Eduardo Leduc, Vice President of the BASF Crop Protection Business Unit in Latin America, the technology will help farmers that increasingly need to “rotate” herbicides with different active mechanisms so as to avoid selection of resistant biotypes. “This is fully Brazilian born-and-raised technology, from concept to market, and it can be described as an important and viable alternative to existing systems too,” Leduc affirmed.

BASF and Embrapa – a successful partnership

BASF and Embrapa first paired up in 1996, when they focused on technology transfer, which marked the start of the research leading to the Cultivance Production System.

Through modern genetic engineering techniques, a BASF proprietary gene known as ahas was introduced by Embrapa into soybean plants. This gene produced a soybean that was tolerant of imidazolinone herbicides. BASF and Embrapa submitted all the risk analyses required under Brazilian law for the deregulation of Cultivance soybeans to the National Technical Commission for Biosafety (CTNBio) in January 2009. After an analysis and review period, CTNBio released Cultivance soybeans for marketing in December 2009, stating that their use did not constitute a risk to human or animal health or to the environment. Since that time, the approval process for the technology has been ongoing in Brazilian soy importing regions, including the United States, China, Japan, and lastly, the European Union.