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Chemtura Corporation has acquired Trace Chemicals (www.tracechemicals.com), a leader in farmer-applied seed treatments in the US market, from Bayer CropScience. The transaction includes the sale of the Trace seed treatment product line and a 14-person formulation operation in Pekin, Illinois, as well as access by Chemtura to certain Bayer CropScience active ingredients, registrations and trademarks. Chemtura is already well known for its global expertise in seed treatment. Mike McFatrich, its global seed treatment product manager said: "This acquisition allows Chemtura to focus on a growing and important segment of the on-farm seed treatment business." “Although the Trace business is strong in its market segment, it is not viewed by Bayer CropScience as a part of our core seed treatment business,” added Bill Buckner, head of the US crop protection business for Bayer CropScience. Mr Buckner explained that as part of the ongoing development of the Bayer CropScience seed treatment business, the company has decided it can better meet the crop protection needs of growers by focusing its seed treatment portfolio on seed companies and its distribution channel.


BASF and CIMMYT, the international maize and wheat improvement research centre (www.cimmyt.org), have signed a development and commercialisation agreement for a new Clearfield technology. The Clearfield production system has been used extensively since 1995. The system matches carefully selected seed varieties/hybrids with custom-designed imidazolinone herbicides. Under license from BASF, CIMMYT will introduce the Clearfield trait into maize germplasm adapted to eastern and southern Africa. This is expected to benefit of millions of smallholder farmers whose maize harvest is devastated by the parasitic weed Striga. This novel public-private partnership involves BASF, CIMMYT, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), local public research organisations and local seed companies. The seed companies will produce the commercial Clearfield maize seed, which will be treated with StrigAway, a novel seed coating to control Striga.

Striga is a parasitic weed that attaches to the roots of the host plant and does damage before the plant has emerged. It can lead to a reduction in yield ranging from 20 to 80%. Due to ineffective control measures, the weed has infested over 40 million hectares of maize in Africa, resulting in damage of over €1.2 billion a year. Maize is the most important food crop in sub-Saharan Africa and plays a major role in providing food security. In contrast to crop spraying, the StrigAway seed coating is highly effective against Striga because it protects the plant throughout the entire growing season. The seed treatment is ideal for smallholder farmers because it is easy to use and does not require sophisticated equipment or training.


As part of its continuing commitment to biotechnology Syngenta will expand its portfolio of crop traits in the 2007 planting season with the registration of the MIR604 event for the control of corn rootworm. Syngenta will commercialise the trait under its Agrisure brand as Agrisure RW through the elite hybrids marketed by Garst, Golden Harvest and NK to US growers. MIR604 has a significant yield advantage in fields infested with corn rootworm and is currently being reviewed by the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

MIR604 is a modified full length Cry3Aa gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The modification extends the activity of this gene to Mexican, northern and western corn rootworms. MIR604 controls newly hatched rootworms through the first larval instar as they begin to feed on corn roots. The larvae are eliminated as soon as they consume the unique Bt protein in the roots. More than 60 trials over a three-year period have been conducted across the corn belt by nine Midwestern universities and Syngenta. “We have taken the time to find the right way to convert this gene to maximise the potential of the rootworm trait and place it in the highest quality hybrids,” said Jack Bernens head of Agrisure traits at Syngenta Seeds. “This will allow growers to reap the full benefits of the trait which gives unparalleled control of rootworms and maximum yield potential.”

31 March 2006                           © Market Scope Europe Ltd                          www.crop-protection-monthly.co.uk

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