Source: Bayer CropScience press release

Experts from universities, industry and Bayer CropScience attended the first Pan American Weed Conference to share concepts and innovative herbicide technologies from Jan. 19-21 in Miami. The Pan American Weed Resistance Conference brought together some 200 scientists, universities and research institutions and practitioners from North and South America to exchange experiences in dealing with weed resistance and the propagation of practical and sustainable solutions.

"Innovative solutions were presented at this unique international conference that offered farmers effective and sustainable ways of controlling weeds in many major crops," the company said in a news release. Solutions include new crop protection technologies that are designed to combat growing resistance to products such as glyphosate and the danger of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes spreading. The most important crops affected in the Americas – from Canada to Chile – are cotton, wheat, soybeans and corn.

To strengthen its basis for future growth, Bayer CropScience plans to further expand its research activities by increasing its annual R&D spending to about 750 million (EUR) within approximately three years.

Innovative approaches to controlling weeds are urgently needed in view of the growing global problem of resistance, the company said. 

"Bayer CropScience has identified new challenges in resistance management and is increasing its investment in research and development," said Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza, member of the board of management of Bayer CropScience AG and responsible for global portfolio management, when he welcomed delegates to the conference. "All our research activities take a comprehensive and future-oriented approach, and our aim is to provide farmers all over the world with new diagnostic tests, herbicides with new modes of action and a wider choice of high-performing traits."

Another important element in the company's weed resistance management strategy is the outlicensing of in-house developed traits. This gives other companies access to technologies developed by Bayer CropScience. Four long-term licensing agreements concluded with high-profile partners between 2007 and 2009 representing a cumulative business potential in excess of 500 million (EUR).

"As a research-based agrochemical, seed and trait company, Bayer CropScience is committed to not only delivering innovative solutions, but also to fostering dialogue around key issues impacting our industry," said Bill Buckner, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP. "We are pleased to host this type of forum for these industry experts in the U.S. -- building upon the success of similar forums held in Europe."

Glufosinate-ammonium controls more than 120 different weeds

Glufosinate ammonium, a herbicidal active ingredient marketed by Bayer CropScience under the brand names Liberty and Ignite, is effective against more than 120 different broad-leaf weeds and grass weeds. Field trials have shown that products based on this active ingredient can also be used to successfully control difficult weeds which are resistant to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors. This offers farmers the advantage of being able to alternate between various non-selective herbicides on LibertyLink crops, thus preventing the further spread of resistance. This form of rotation is an important element in Integrated Weed Management, a program conceived by Bayer CropScience. This approach extends the useful life of active ingredients and herbicide-tolerant technologies. None of the studies published to date points to the existence of resistance to glufosinate ammonium in soybeans and corn.

LibertyLink technology

LibertyLink technology is marketed for effective weed control. Combining the herbicide tolerance developed by Bayer CropScience and the active ingredient glufosinate-ammonium, this technology is an important component of successful resistance management and currently the only marketed alternative to glyphosate-tolerant systems. It is used on cotton, canola, soybeans and corn. However, increasing weed resistance is making LibertyLink technology an interesting potential option for other crops such as cereals and rice as well.

Bayer CropScience is planning to bring its first dual herbicide tolerance trait, known as a "double stack,"  in cotton to market in 2010. The modified seed is tolerant of both the active ingredient glufosinate-ammonium and (delete preceeding adjectives) glyphosate.

The company is also working with collaboration partners Mertec and M.S. Technologies to develop further herbicide tolerance traits in soybeans in the U.S. These will include a "triple stack,", a combination of traits conferring tolerance to herbicides based on glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate plus tolerance to a third class of active ingredients known as HPPD inhibitors. This class of products includes, for example, Balance Pro from Bayer CropScience, a herbicide used on corn in the USA. Rollout in soybeans is planned for 2015.