Industry News – January 2014

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Industry News is geared to seed professionals and delivers the people, industry, business and product news you need to know. Submissions are welcome. Email us at·news@issuesink.com.

People News

Syngenta has announced the retirement of Antonio Carlos Guimarães, regional director of Latin America, effective December 31, 2013, after 14 successful years at Syngenta. Karsten Neuffer, who is currently global head of Seedcare, will succeed Guimarães as regional director for Latin America and will relocate to São Paulo in the first quarter of 2014. He will lead a region that encompasses important emerging markets, more than 4,000 employees across more than 30 countries and reported sales of $3.7 billion in 2012.

AgriThority LLC, an integrated agricultural science consultancy and field research and development company, has hired Bennie Oosthuizen, an agricultural industry marketing and business development specialist from Johannesburg, South Africa, as an associate. In his new role, Oosthuizen will provide consultation services for clients with interests throughout Africa, further enhancing the company’s footprint in the region. Oosthuizen brings more than 40 years of experience managing the marketing, sales and product development of crop protection products.

The U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance has announced that Michael Phillips has been selected as its first secretariat to spearhead collaborative efforts to improve the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S. crops produced through modern biotechnology. Phillips is president of MJ Phillips and Associates LLC, an agricultural consulting firm that specializes in agricultural biotechnology issues. Phillips will be the focal point of the group’s efforts to further advance the reach, work and wide range of activities of the alliance.

Brian Reed has joined Burrus Hybrids as sales manager for southern Illinois. Reed will have overall responsibility for Burrus’ regional sales managers in that area and development of customer relation management tools. Previously with Cargill for five years, Reed held sales and sales recruiting positions, receiving numerous awards in those areas.

Illumina Inc. has appointed Francis deSouza to the role of president. DeSouza will lead Illumina’s business units and the core functions responsible for envisioning, developing and producing the company’s products. He will also become part of Illumina’s executive management team, which is responsible for directing all aspects of company strategy, planning and operations.

The American Seed Trade Association has hired Janice Tolley Walters as the new director of communications for the association. Walters will work closely with senior staff, as well as ASTA leadership, to promote the seed industry’s regulatory and legislative positions, as well as its many initiatives to support seed education and research, careers in the seed industry, and the quality management, movement and stewardship of seed.

Jim Schweigert has been named president of Gro Alliance, the nation’s largest, independent contract seed corn producer. Schweigert had been serving as the vice president of business development for Gro Alliance and has been a leader in improving seed quality and efficiency through the use of innovative technology and information sharing strategies. Jim takes the reins from his father, Lou Schweigert, who has guided the company since 1977. In the industry, Jim founded the American Seed Trade Association’s Future Seed Executives initiative in 2004 and has served on the ASTA board of directors as the regional vice president to Canada since 2009. He was also honored as the 2009 recipient of Seed World magazine’s Future Giant award.

NorthStar Genetics has announced that Lyle Marcus has joined the company as its product manager for both corn and soybeans. Marcus comes to NorthStar with over 25 years of seed experience and will support NorthStar sales throughout the upper Midwest United States.

Product News

Bayer CropScience and Cargill are introducing L156H—an InVigor Health hybrid with a high oleic oil profile. Bayer will produce and package the seed and sell it only through Cargill Specialty Seeds and Oils authorized dealers. “L156H gives farmers the agronomic performance they can count on from InVigor, plus the opportunity to sell at a contract premium,” says Tom Schuler, strategic business lead for seeds and traits at Bayer. L156H is the fourth new InVigor canola hybrid introduced by Bayer CropScience for the 2014 growing season.

The Agrisure Viptera 3110 trait stack from Syngenta has received United States Environmental Protection Agency approval for control of true armyworm—an industry first. In addition to true armyworm, the Agrisure Viptera 3110 trait stack delivers broad-spectrum control of aboveground lepidopteran insects and can be part of an effective insect management strategy for growers who do not need to manage for corn rootworm. Syngenta hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera 3110 trait stack are available for the 2014 planting season.

DuPont Pioneer is introducing a new class of hybrids featuring a pyramid of insect protection traits to help control the lepidopteran family of insects. Optimum Leptra hybrids combine three traits to provide multiple modes of action and superior protection from a broad spectrum of aboveground corn pests. Pioneer is introducing six new Optimum Leptra products in limited volumes for sale in 2014. Optimum Leptra hybrids also offer flexible weed control options with tolerance to both glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides.

Business News

Monsanto Company has added to its hybrid corn and rapeseed production plants at several sites in Europe. The increase in Monsanto’s seed processing capabilities in Romania, Hungary and Turkey is part of a decade-long, $680 million investment in Europe that will include further investments in France, Ukraine and Russia, more than double the company’s seed production and reinforce strategic partnerships with subcontractors throughout Europe. The company is at the halfway point in the current expansion.

Arcadia Biosciences Inc. and DuPont Pioneer have announced their intention to collaborate to develop enabling technology to help manage pollen flow in sorghum. This technology will help facilitate the development and deployment of agronomic and quality traits in the crop. Under the agreement, Arcadia receives exclusive global rights to develop specified Pioneer technology for use in grain, forage, sweet and biofuel sorghum types. The potential exists for numerous agronomic performance and quality traits to be developed and commercialized in sorghum.

Land O’Lakes Inc. has acquired Geosys, a global technology firm that provides satellite imaging and insights to agribusiness. The acquisition caps a multi-year relationship between Geosys and Land O’Lakes through its WinField division, which utilizes select Geosys technologies in the United States. “This purchase demonstrates Land O’Lakes’ leadership in helping to build the farm of the future with cutting-edge concepts and technologies. These industry-leading technologies give farmers the tools to make critical decisions to improve yields while reducing their environmental footprint,” says Land O’Lakes president and CEO Chris Policinski. Geosys will continue to develop its customer base and continue its expansion into the U.S. and international agricultural markets.

Monsanto Company and Novozymes have announced a long-term strategic alliance to transform research and commercialization of sustainable microbial products that will provide a new platform of solutions for growers around the world. The BioAg Alliance will allow the companies to leverage employees, technologies and commercial assets in their agricultural biologicals portfolios. The BioAg Alliance brings together Novozymes’ commercial BioAg operations and capabilities within microbial discovery, development and production with Monsanto’s microbial discovery, advanced biology, field testing and commercial capabilities. The result will be a comprehensive research, development and commercial collaboration to help farmers meet the challenge of producing more with less in a sustainable way.

NewLeaf Symbiotics Inc., an agricultural biotech company, has acquired Intuitive Genomics Inc., a leader in the design and implementation of custom bioinformatics solutions. The acquisition of Intuitive Genomics’ elite computational and bioinformatics capabilities complements NewLeaf’s research and development efforts and product pipeline and positions the company as a top player in the burgeoning biologicals category. NewLeaf Symbiotics is researching and commercializing naturally beneficial plant bacteria for crop health and protection.

Bayer CropScience has entered into an agreement to purchase the startup company FN Semillas S.A. based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. FN Semillas S.A. specializes in the breeding, production and marketing of improved soybean seeds in Argentina. This acquisition ratifies the commitment of Bayer in Argentina and marks the company’s entrance into the national soybean seed market in this country. For Bayer, the acquisition is another step in building a global soybean seed platform. The acquisition will be filed for clearance before the Antitrust Authority in Argentina.

Industry News

Precision BioSciences Inc. and DuPont Pioneer have announced that The Plant Journal has published an article detailing collaborative, cutting-edge research to generate male-sterile corn plants. Researchers at Pioneer used Precision’s advanced genome engineering technology, called DNE, to knock out or disable the function of the ms26 gene in corn. Knocking out this gene has enabled Pioneer to produce corn plants that are male-sterile, a powerful tool for hybrid seed production.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced nearly $9 million in grants for research into issues affecting plant breeding and production, leading to improvements in plants that are critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of American agriculture. The awards were made under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative foundational program priority area of plant breeding for agricultural production. The funded projects focus on classical breeding to include cultivar development, prebreeding and germplasm enhancement, related species introgression and novel approaches to phenotyping, among other areas. AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill.

Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota. The study tracked global harvest trends of 177 crops between 1961 and 2011. Deepak Ray, lead author of the study, introduced the concept of harvest gap-–the difference between actual per-year harvest frequency and the maximum potential frequency. They found that Africa, Latin America and Asia have the highest concentration of potential harvest gaps. Closing the gap would boost crop production on existing croplands without resorting to further clearing for agriculture. Worldwide, the researchers found that closing harvest gaps could theoretically boost production more than 44 percent.

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