Increasing use of biological products

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Much like the increase in the use of biotechnology, mainstream agriculture production in the United States is beginning to adapt to using more biological products. The U.S. market has been slow to adopt biologicals that have been more widely accepted and used in other countries. But the traditional crop protection and seed companies have become interested in the use of biologicals and they look to introduce biologicals to the U.S. market in a large way in 2014 and beyond.

Traditional crop protection companies have begun acquiring the smaller biological companies and incorporating their research and technology into their own. For example, BASF purchased Becker Underwood, Syngenta purchased Pasteuria and DevGen and Bayer bought AgraQuest and Prophyta. In mid-December, Monsanto and Novozymes announced a collaboration they are calling the BioAg Alliance. The alliance is a long-term strategic alliance to transform research and commercialization of sustainable microbial products.

In an interview with Seed World, Bob Streit, independent ag consultant, said Brazil and Argentina are way ahead of U.S. farmers in adopting biological pest management strategies. He claims that South American agronomists and farmers are more hands-on with their teaching and scouting of their fields.

EPA and USDA support for biologicals will largely accelerate companies’ research and product development of biological because they consider these products more environmentally friendly than pesticides.  

Streit said, “EPA will fast-track that development [of biologicals], so much so that if the company with the new product asks for a label on three crops, EPA might grant a label for 20 crops … And that’s basically because these new products present little or no challenge to the environment and the soils which grow our crops.”

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