USA: Rentokil acquires Residex
In early July, Rentokil Initial plc announced details of its continued expansion in North America with the acquisition of pest control and turf products distribution business Residex LLC for US$30m. Residex is the largest independent products distribution company in the US, with annualised revenues for the 12 months prior to acquisition of $113m. The acquisition increases the scale of the Company’s existing pest and turf products business, which more than doubles in size. It creates the second largest business of this type in the US market, delivering national coverage and a greater density footprint. The addition of Residex means that the Rentokil business in North America is set to deliver annualised revenues of around $1 billion by the end of the year.
In the first half of 2016 the company completed a series of 20 highly-targeted city-based acquisitions, predominantly in Pest Control in North America, Asia, Pacific and Europe. Total annualised revenues in the year prior to acquisition for these businesses acquired, including Residex, were c. £100m.
Israel: Exporting predatory insects and bumblebees to Russia
Following the European boycott on Russian produce as a result of the country’s invasion of Crimea, Russian agriculture was abruptly cut off from its traditional supply base. Israeli companies have stepped in and have been working to construct greenhouses for Russian farmers and consult with them on using natural methods to manage pests.
BioBee Biological Systems, in northern Israel, breeds and applies beneficial insects and mites (swirskii, Phytoseiulus persimilis) for use in pest control in tomatoes, cucumbers and roses.
Part of the collaboration involves experiments being carried out by BioBee in using bumblebees to pollinate cherry orchards in Crimea. The company expects, that should the trials prove a success, this would open new markets for Israel in pollinating cherry trees around the world. Crop pollination by insects has been estimated at $14.6 billion to the US economy. Bee diversity has declined considerably in the US and Europe, with many species disappearing from much of their former range. The UK has lost three species of native bumblebee and six more are listed as endangered. Four bumblebee species have gone extinct from Europe and similar declines are seen in China.
The Israeli initiative offers a solution to a problem plaguing Russian and global agriculture.
Global: Delivering next generation weed control solutions
Monsanto Company and Sumitomo Chemical Company, Ltd. have announced a new global agreement that will focus on developing and delivering next-generation weed control solutions to further help growers manage tough-to-control weeds.
Monsanto’s pipeline of multi-generational herbicide trait upgrades in its research and development pipeline, are designed to provide multiple and additional modes of action for weed control well into the future. This includes PPO-herbicide tolerance traits, which are in the early phases of R&D and are expected to be included in future generation multi-herbicide tolerant trait stacks. In addition to its existing portfolio, Sumitomo Chemical has been developing a new generation PPO chemistry that has shown broader spectrum control with application flexibility that has the potential to enhance current and future weed control systems.
Under the new global agreement, the companies will work to create an integrated system of germplasm, biotechnology and crop protection that will represent this new generation of weed control solutions. As part of this, they will collaborate in the development, registration and commercialization of Sumitomo Chemical’s key PPO chemistries including its new generation PPO herbicide for over-the top and conventional herbicide application use in Monsanto’s future generation weed management systems, as well as conventional applications for certain other crop uses. The new generation PPO herbicide is expected to be available within brands offered by both companies. The next-generation herbicide is expected to be commercially available early in the next decade, pending regulatory approvals. Additional details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Belgium: Electronic nose detects pesticides and nerve gas
As anyone who has been breathalysed will know, alcohol is easy to detect. As drivers breathe into the device, a sensor measures the amount of alcohol in the breath and a chemical reaction is then converted into an electronic signal and digital readout. In this case the chemical reaction is specific and the concentration of the measured gas is fairly high. But many other gases are complex mixtures of molecules in very low concentrations.
Researchers from KU Leuven have now built a very sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Postdoctoral researcher Ivo Stassen explained “We created a MOF that absorbs the phosphonates found in pesticides and nerve gases. This means you can use it to find traces of chemical weapons such as sarin or to identify the residue of pesticides on food. This MOF is the most sensitive gas sensor to date for these dangerous substances. Our measurements were conducted in cooperation with IMEC, the Leuven based nanotechnology research centre. The concentrations we’re dealing with are extremely low: parts per billion and parts per trillion.”
The chemical sensor can easily be integrated into existing electronic devices, Professor Rob Ameloot added. “You can apply the MOF as a thin film over the surface of, for instance, an electric circuit. Therefore, it’s fairly easy to equip a smartphone with a gas sensor for pesticides and nerve gas.”
For more information, visit Chemical Science: http://rsc.li/2aJw7Pv.
Europe: Commission gives glyphosate weed killer a lastminute reprieve
To the relief of farmers, the herbicide glyphosate will remain on the market in Europe for another 18 months. The widely used weed killer faced a 30 June deadline for re-approval of its safety, without which it could not be sold, but the decision has been stuck in political gridlock. So the European Commission stepped in to extend the safety approval until December 2017. The decision was mentioned by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis during a press conference today and may be officially announced tomorrow, according to a commission source.
The safety of glyphosate has been hotly debated ever since the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared it a “probable human carcinogen” in March 2015. Regulatory agencies had previously declared glyphosate safe when properly used, and the European Food Safety Authority was on track to renew its approval. (The differing opinions caused some confusion, which is clarified here.) Opponents of the herbicide campaigned for the commission not to renew the market license. Glyphosate manufacturers and the farm lobby objected fiercely, and member states could not reach a majority decision about how to proceed.
In his comment, Andriukaitis said that the commission granted the 18-month extension in order to have the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) complete its review of glyphosate. ECHA is responsible for classification and labelling of hazardous chemicals, and during commission deliberations in May, some member states wanted to know ECHA’s opinion on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate before voting on its re-approval.
Read Martin’s full article on the status of glyphosate on page 226.
US: Marrone Bio Innovations pays to settle litigation
Marrone Bio Innovations reached an agreement to settle the private securities class action litigation against it. The agreement is subject to review and approval by the court after notice and an opportunity to object are provided. The settlement agreement contains no admission or concession of wrongdoing or liability by the Company or any other defendant and includes a full release of claims. The civil settlement seeks to concludes Marrone Bio’s outstanding issues. Having previously paid $1.75m to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the new agreement provides for a settlement payment of $12 million for shareholders which will be paid by insurance carriers. Accordingly, the settlement of these lawsuits will have no adverse impact on the Company’s financial position or operations.
Furthermore, in June, Marrone Bio announced that it had obtained a waiver from lenders, terminating the requirement that the Company maintain a $15 million minimum cash balance. Marrone Bio’s civil settlement with its sharehol ers is separate from the criminal actions facing former Chief Operating Officer, Hector Absi who is still under indictment in a criminal case as well as a separate SEC lawsuit. Both are pending in the Federal court in Sacramento.
Europe: Good news from the continent
Certis Europe celebrated its 15th anniversary in June with a gathering of all employees, shareholder representatives and guests in The Hague, Netherlands. A full company profile will be available in the September issue of International Pest Control.
US & UK: Rollins Acquires Safeguard Pest Control
On 29th June, Rollins Inc., a premier global consumer and commercial services company, announced that it has purchased the stock of Safeguard Pest Control and Environmental Services Limited, operating in greater London and Southeastern England. It is Rollins’ first company owned operation in the United Kingdom.
Established in 1991 and headquartered in Westersham Kent, United Kingdom, Safeguard is a long established pest control company in the UK, with a rich history of providing superior pest control, bird control, and specialist services to residential and commercial customers. Owners Paul Butterick and Tim Sheehan will stay on to run the company operations.
Gary W. Rollins, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rollins stated, “The Safeguard acquisition is an important milestone and expands our global presence. Safeguard’s outstanding management team has established the company as an industry leader, and we share a culture of continuous improvement and ongoing investment in training and development. Further, we are pleased that Paul and Tim will remain in leadership roles and look forward to sharing best practices between the two organizations.”
Rollins Inc. provides pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects to more than two million customers, from more than 700 locations.
For more information visit: www.safeguardpestcontrol.co.uk and www.rollins.com.
UK: University of Hertfordshire reveals ground-breaking crop disease warning system
A prototype warning system that can warn of crop disease up to four weeks before symptoms are seen – earlier than any other system currently available – has been revealed by the University of Hertfordshire’s MEMS Group.
This latest bio detection system, showcased at ‘Cereals 2016’ consists of an integrated high volume air sampler, fluidic sample processing delivery system and on-board molecular diagnostics.
Dr. Daniel McCluskey, Senior Research Fellow, Enterprise & Business Development at the University of Hertfordshire, commented: “With a seven-day autonomous pathogen detection operation, our system conducts sensitive, specific analyses and reports them via terrestrial mobile or satellite data connection. We envisage that this data will feed into the CropMonitor forecast models to identify emerging threats. This would therefore enable farmers and agronomists to make more informed, ‘smart’ spraying decisions that both enhance food security and reduce the use of environmental fungicide”.
The University’s prototype crop disease warning system has been developed over the past 18 months, as part of a three year joint BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) and Innovate UK funded consortium project. Working closely with its consortium partners – Optisense Ltd, FERA Science Ltd and Bayer Cropscience – the University has applied its expertise in researching advanced integrated biodefence systems to develop a viable technology platform for the food security industry.
The prototype design has undergone extensive laboratory testing and is now ready to be deployed for field trials, with FERA and Bayer overseeing the next phase of the project. The development of the commercial device will be undertaken by Optisense and is due to commence in parallel with the next stage of field trials.
Asia: Solving pest problems on Australia’s Gold Coast
The FAOPMA Conference, hosted by AEPMA and held from 14-16 September 2016 at the Sea World Resort and Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, Australia, is set to be a highlight Pest Management event for 2016. The theme for the conference is “Solving Pest Problems”, bringing pest managers, industry specialists and experts together to work towards solving real life pest problems.
Mr Paul Hanna, one of Australia’s leading motivational speakers on developing potential in individuals and organisations will be presenting the Keynote presentation at the conference. Other highlights include presentations on Termites and Termite Control, with such high profile experts as Dr Charunee from Thailand, Dr Theo Evans and Dr Don Ewart. With the emerging threat of the Zika Virus – Dr Stephen Doggett will present on the latest in Mosquitoes and Mosquito-Borne Threats.
There will be some 40+ exhibitors, showing delegates the latest in products and technologies from Australia and overseas. Major sponsors include BASF, Globe, Pelgar, Ensystex, Sherwood Chemicals and Syngenta. The conference program promises to bring some exciting new experiences, such as the special presentation Working Breakfasts, the Welcome Cocktail Reception with live dolphin show and a Tropical Themed Gala Dinner at McLaren’s Landing on South Stradbroke Island for the much anticipated announcement of the Australian “Pest Manager of the Year”.
Sea World Resort and the Gold Coast provide the perfect backdrop to extend the event and to enjoy the Australian Gold Coast. Special accommodation rates available through the AEPMA conference website (www.aepma.com.au/conference) and can be booked directly using the special group booking code “FAOPMA2016”.
…And finally…Y-Moths fly into Paris
The UEFA European (football) Championship drew to a strange end in Paris, not because Portugal beat France 1-0 after extra time, but as Cristiano Ronaldo sat in tears on the turf, injured after just 25 minutes, a moth settled on his face and formed one of the most bizarre images of the tournament. The moth was one of thousands in the Stade de France stadium that night, pictured in clouds on the pitch as the players warmed up. The spectacle appears to have been the result of a very the bright stadium lights being left on overnight on the eve of the game, coinciding with a moth migration.
The moths were Autographa gamma, the Silver Y Moth, a pest of numerous crops such as vegetables, cereals and nursery stock. Silver Y Moths migrate annually from North Africa, travelling through France to breed in Britain. The adults fly in the Paris region normally in May – June with a second flight at the end of July. The Euro 2016 final appears to have interrupted this year’s northward migration.
The adult moths have short lives, of as little as two weeks after emergence and must complete their migration before finding a mate. The Stade, acting as a giant moth light trap, will have ended that flight for many.
Published in International Pest Control – July/August 2016 issue