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International news in brief – May/June 2018

| August 10, 2018
  • World: Bayer acquisition of Monsanto

(Photo: Bayer)

Bayer completed the acquisition of Monsanto on 7th June following the receipt of all the required approvals from regulatory authorities and Bayer is now the sole owner of Monsanto. “The acquisition of Monsanto is a strategic milestone in strengthening our portfolio of leading businesses in health and nutrition. We will double the size of our agriculture business and create a leading innovation engine in agriculture, positioning us to better serve our customers and unlock the long-term growth potential in the sector,” said Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG.

Bayer announced its intention to acquire Monsanto in May 2016 and signed an agreement with the U.S. company for USD128 per share in September 2016. In 2017, both companies together employed approximately about 115,000 people. The acquisition is anticipated to generate significant value and Bayer expects a positive contribution to core earnings per share starting in 2019. From 2021 onward, the company claims that contribution is expected to be a double-digit percentage.

According to the conditional approval from the United States Department of Justice, the integration of Monsanto into Bayer can take place as soon as the divestments to BASF have been completed. These include, amongst other assets; Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium non-selective herbicide business, the company’s entire vegetable seed business, certain seed treatment brands, the hybrid wheat R&D platform and Bayer’s digital farming platform xarvioTM. This divestment is expected to take place in about two months. “We have diligently prepared for the upcoming integration over the past two years. Our extensive experience in integrating other large companies has proven that we can and will be successful,” said Baumann.

Bayer will remain the company name and the Monsanto name will disappear. The acquired products will retain their brand names and become part of the Bayer portfolio.

Innovative technologies
“Innovation is vital to produce more healthy, safe and affordable food for a growing population in a more sustainable manner. The combination of the two businesses will allow us to deliver more innovation faster and provide solutions tailored to the needs of farmers around the world,” said Liam Condon, Bayer Board Member and President of the Crop Science Division. “Going forward, our teams in the labs and in the field will be able to take a much more holistic approach to innovation as we address the enormous challenges we face in agriculture.”

The total R&D investment of Bayer and Monsanto in 2017 would have been around 5.7 billion euros (excludes planned disposals). Of that, 2.4 billion euros was spent in the combined agriculture business.

Commitment to sustainability
Aware of the heightened responsibility that a leadership position in agriculture entails the company says it will continue to further strengthen its commitment in sustainability. As a leader, it claims to be fully committed to upholding the highest ethical and responsibility standards, strengthening access to health and nutrition, and further reducing its environmental footprint. “We will apply the same rigor to achieving our sustainability targets as we do to our financial targets,” said Baumann.

(Photo: Bayer)

There is also a commitment to further enhancing stakeholder engagement. Baumann said: “We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground. Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It’s the only way to build bridges.”

The acquisition will make Bayer the world’s largest company in the pesticides and seed sector

  • World: Fruit and nut case

Brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha haly

Control of a global pest which has already caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to hazelnut crops in Georgia and apple production in north eastern regions of the USA is now benefitting from the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International’s (CABI) expertise in scientific research and development.

Dr Tim Haye, Head of Arthropod Biological Control at CABI, is leading a project in China to determine whether a natural solution can be found to control devastating impacts of the brown marmorated stink bug  Halyomorpha halys.

Known not only for its pungent smell to deter predators and its ability to ‘hitchhike’ around the world, the brown marmorated stink bug in 2016 caused $60m worth of damage to Georgia’s hazelnuts
(a third of its crop) and in 2010, $37m worth of apples were destroyed in parts of the USA.

Dr Haye, as part of CABI’s work to help farmers increase their incomes from their crops and therefore meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of ‘No Poverty’, is busy developing a bioclimatic model for the potential distribution of the bug with colleagues from the International Pest Risk Research Group.

As devastating losses in Georgia continued in 2017 and hazelnut production in Turkey and Italy is also threatened, Dr Haye is also working to see if the parasitic wasp  Trissolcus japonicus  (from the stink bug’s native range in China) can prove an effective weapon in the fight against the stink bug and serve as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to pesticide control.

CABI has already completed a risk assessment study, and it is hoped the research conducted in Switzerland will help determine the possible use of the Asian natural enemy against the stink bug in Georgia.

Dr Haye said, “The brown marmorated stink bug is a brilliant hitchhiker – when they go into overwintering they move into houses, boxes and goods and are moved about unwittingly by humans. They even hitchhike in new cars being exported for sale. Models predict it could spread to Poland, New Zealand, Argentina, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Angola.”

“We’re looking at alternatives to pesticide control and the  Trissolcus parasitoid  wasp in China is one possible option. The parasitoid is known to significantly reduce the pest in China, but before any releases in invaded areas can be conducted, we must ensure that the uses of the Asian wasps are safe for the environment.”

“We are also exploring another promising option: some native European egg parasitoid species have started to adopt  Halyomorpha halys  as a new host. In the EU-project BINGO, we are investigating whether one of these,  Anastatus bifasciatus, could be mass-released as an inundative biological control agent in European apple orchards, and what potential risks might be associated with this.”

Mass-rearing techniques for  Anastatus bifasciatus  are currently being developed. CABI has started to make the first inundative releases in apple orchards to evaluate the parasitoid’s potential for biological control in Europe, and releases are being continued.

In September Dr Haye co-edited a special issue on the  Halyomorpha halys  in the Journal of Pest Science with Don Weber from the USDA Agricultural Research Service. It brings together the very latest knowledge on the pest synthesised from 23 original research articles by scientists from Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
More information: http://www.cabi.org/projects/project/32727

  • World: Meeting demand for residue free berries

Speaking at the recent Global Berry Congress 2018 in Rotterdam, Julien Mourrut-Salesse – Biobest’s Head of IPM and Pollination Specialists – highlighted a range of solutions to help address growing consumer demand for residue-free berries.

This event brought together leading berry growers from around the world and provided an opportunity to learn, network and create new business opportunities. Julien Mourrut-Salesse was one of 40 expert speakers chosen to assess key challenges and help delegates understand the future for the industry.

“The residue-free concept challenges growers to rethink agrochemical practices” he said. “They need to think outside the box and it requires strong knowledge of pesticide use and residues. Residue-free can mean the adoption of new technologies, the need to adapt cultural practices and generally requires improved monitoring to boost IPM use. As a result it often leads to a healthier crop and a possible increase in yield.”

Supporting residue-free projects in several countries, he explained that the company has a dedicated team helping growers meet this objective with monitoring tools, a broad range of beneficial insects and mites, entomopathogenic nematodes, microbials and bumblebees as well as a stream of other innovations.

In response to the growing challenge of the widespread strawberry pest  Drosophila suzukii, he highlighted the Droso trap and Dros’attract which he claimed are setting the standard for detection of this pest. Many external trials proved that the combination of Biobest’s trap and attractant is the best combination available on the market.

Summing up he said “Consumer demand for residue-free produce is growing rapidly. Growers face new challenges and expect new solutions from the crop protection industry. Residue-free and optimal pollination combined ensure high yields and good returns.”

  • Europe: XVII Parasitec Paris 2018

Cockroaches, rats, mice, hornets, bed bugs, mosquitoes… this is an important event for pest management professionals involved in the control of these pests.

It is aimed at all those companies, organizations, media, and professionals working in pest control or needing pest control services and it will take place at the Paris Event Center, Porte de La Villette, Paris, France, over three days from Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th of November 2018.

Every two years, Parasitec is held in Paris and it brings together professionals from all over Europe and beyond to discuss technical and scientific innovations for controlling pests in public and private spaces. In 2016, 98 exhibitors and 3,067 visitors attended the event and 2018 promises to be just as successful. The event helps the pest control market understand and respond to the aspirations of the consumers, customers, and specifiers who are in search of effective solutions that meet high standards and show respect for the environment.

The event includes several high-level conferences on the most current and relevant topics in the field of Public Health which are presented in French with simultaneous translation into English. These conferences are the real added value of Parasitec and are aimed at production companies, services companies and user groups interested in innovation and wanting to gain an understanding of the latest trends and best practice in pest control.The conference programme should be available soon.
More information: https://france.parasitec.org/en/

  • Europe & Pacific: Galapagos tomato is resistant to many insects

The Galapagos Islands are the source of a wild tomato species that has been discovered by scientists from Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands to be resistant to a wide range of pest insects. This species is closely related to the cultivated tomato, making the resilience easier to interbreed into the latter and ultimately making it resistant to many different types of insects.

Cultivated tomatoes are far more vulnerable to pests and diseases than some of their wild relatives. The process of breeding modern tomatoes has resulted in the loss of a lot of their natural resistance, while wild species have remained much better at coping with insects.

Scientists have been working to reverse this by reintroducing resistance from wild tomato species via breeding. The problem is that most of these plants are very distant relatives of the cultivated tomato and scientists have yet to successfully interbreed the required traits. The wild tomato from the Galapagos Islands, however, is genetically very similar to the cultivated tomato. Moreover, its resistance is coded within a single chromosome, which should make cross-breeding into existing plants much easier.

“We have been busy with this research since 2010,” said Ben Vosman, scientist at Wageningen University and Research. “We worked with samples of the wild tomato species Solanum galapagense from a gene bank. The first discovery was that this tomato species is resistant to whiteflies. Then it turned out that it is resilient to a lot of other insects too, including the green peach aphid and caterpillars of the beet armyworm. That was a very pleasant surprise.”

Cultivated tomatoes are easily affected by pest insects. One is the whitefly, which transmits viruses that infect the plants and eventually kill them. This fly is normally combatted by pesticides. “If we can make cultivated tomatoes resistant to whiteflies, this will directly benefit the environment,” Vosman states.

While this problem is still relatively manageable in greenhouses through integrated control, there are still pests in that environment. In field crops, the problems with insects are much bigger. “We expect most of the gain to be in field cultivation and in the tropics” Vosman continues. “We are delighted by this discovery.”

  • UK: Export grain protection

It’s not just during on-farm storage that insect pests can prove economically damaging to the UK arable industry. To ensure exports are protected during transport, traders have turned their attention to preventatively spraying grain to ensure that no pests are present when the cargo arrives at its destination.

The application of insecticide happens during loading at the port, a service offered by Alpha Fumigation, which specialises in the fumigation and associated treatment of commodities and grain. Director, Peter Woolley said: “Over the past few years, we’ve found that traders increasingly want to take a preventative approach by spraying grain, to ensure exports are protected against insect pests.

“As more traders are choosing to protect with insecticides, we have developed specialist application equipment for spraying both export and import grain cargoes. This equipment enables us to simultaneously spray multiple loading belts or elevators, to ensure a thorough and even application.”

With the export season spanning from September until late spring, the company then turns its attention to spraying grain stores ahead of harvest, again both preventatively and curatively.

A product used in post-harvest storage is Talisma® EC, a pyrethroid insecticide containing cypermethrin and synergist Piperonyl butoxide. The combination can be used to treat both grain and storage structures, with no withholding period post application.

Mr Woolley added: “We first used Talisma EC in 2014 and have continued to do so since because the product has performed consistently whilst being economically competitive. One of the main benefits is the range of application rates. You can also spray the grain directly, or the storage facility. This flexibility, alongside its consistent performance, gives the product added value.”

Cypermethrin acts by ingestion and contact at very low dose, causing rapid knock-down, whereas Piperonyl butoxide has synergistic action, inhibiting the enzyme which detoxifies cells after cypermethrin has been applied. Using the two active ingredients together enhances the effects of cypermethrin, whilst also helping to manage resistance.

Rob Adamson, Technical Support for Arysta LifeScience the supplier of the chemicals, said: “The presence of insects, whether during storage or export, depreciates the value of the whole crop and can ultimately lead to rejection. Using a cypermethrin-based insecticide as part of a resistance management programme, alongside products with other modes of action, is the best approach for ensuring maximum efficacy.
For more information:  www.arystalifescience.co.uk and www.alphafumigation.co.uk

  • Europe: Eurasian wolf –  Biodiversity  icon  or  ‘bloodied’  pest

A savage attack on sheep by a wild Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus) near the German town of Bad Wildbad in the state of Baden-Württemberg brings into sharp focus the contrasting views of European re-wilding enthusiasts and livestock farmers concerning this and other native canine and feline predators. Hunters are now being urged to track down and kill the wolf following the death of 40 sheep including 32 savaged by the predator and another 8 which drowned after jumping into a river to escape. The wolf broke into a livestock enclosure ‘housing’ the sheep.

This latest attack, near the French-German border, has brought the debate around Germany’s Eurasian wolf population into sharp focus. DNA tests are still being carried out to provide absolute proof that a pure Eurasian wolf was behind the sheep killing although locals claim there is little doubt. Eurasian wolves have been spreading throughout Germany since appearing in the east of the country in 2000. Their resurgence after an absence of almost exactly 100 years has delighted re-wilding activists but is a cause of concern for farmers with around 1,000 farm animals killed or injured in wolf attacks during 2016 alone. At least seven wolves have been seen in Baden-Württemberg over the last seven years with local officials growing increasingly uneasy. Under European Union law pure Eurasian wolves are protected and can only be shot in special circumstances, when they are proved to pose an acute danger to local livestock or a threat to people.

Anette Wohlfarth, head of the state organisation for sheep protection, said the attack confirmed her suspicion that it would be difficult for wolves to live on the same territory as sheep in the rural areas of Baden-Württemberg. The incident led Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner to call for an effective means of managing the wolves and for more to be done to monitor their population growth.

A spokesperson on environmental issues for the local CDU (Christian Democrats) political party said they believed that in this particular case the wolf should be tracked down and shot because it acted out of bloodlust. Nature Conservation Union of Germany (NABU) said the first thing that needed to happen was for full compensation to be paid to the shepherd suffering the loss. Whether the Eurasian wolf is a biodiversity icon or a ‘bloodied’ pest clearly depends on your standpoint and what you stand to gain or lose.

This incident will clearly exercise the minds of people on both sides of the debate, and in the United Kingdom where some re-wilding enthusiasts are calling for the re-introduction of the Eurasian wolf after an absence of at least four centuries. Ironically some of those calling for the re-introduction of the Eurasian wolf into the United Kingdom (and especially Scotland) have in mind a natural means of pest control. The target pest in this case is the deer population now estimated at 1.5 million, the highest for 1,000 years and causing increasingly significant economic damage to forest plantation trees. Research in Germany shows that deer and wild boar comprise by far the most significant part of the Eurasian wolf’s preferred and actual diet.
Source: Dr Terry Mabbett

  • Europe: Certis Innovation Center at World Horti Center

Opened by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in March, the World Horti Center (WHC), is home to the new Certis Innovation Center (CIC). The WHC is located in Naaldwijk in the Westland region, at the heart of the Netherland’s protected crop growing area and brings together a unique grouping of around 50 leading companies in the horticultural sector. The state of the art facilities for research, exhibitions, meeting areas and education offer an ideal venue for national and international organisations.

The World Horti Centre opened by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in March

Certis will have its own facilities to conduct product trials at the CIC, exploring optimum usage, application methods and combinations of biorationals and conventional products to provide the best fit for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems. A dedicated researcher together with the company technical team will be responsible for the trial work and there are plans to run training and workshops for technical colleagues within the company as well as amongst suppliers and customers to communicate practical developments.

The CIC will focus on the development of products ready for the grower to use and the generation of a knowledge base to improve communication with customers and the company’s response to their needs.

  • And Finally…UK: Young farmers needed for Lord Mayor’s Show

A group of enthusiastic young farmers, who are making a real difference within farming and have great stories to tell, are being sought to join the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in one of the most popular historic civic pageants in the world.

The NFU is launching a competition to find eight young farmers who will land starring roles representing British farming in the 2018 Lord Mayor’s show and take the Back British Farming message to the streets of the City of London.

The 803rd parade takes place on Saturday 10th November and will be featured in a live BBC broadcast. The NFU will be joined by Massey Ferguson to support the Worshipful Company of Farmers in this year’s show. The entry will incorporate a tractor, combine harvester and food, with the participants providing the heart and soul of the exhibit.

As an additional prize this year, Massey Ferguson is inviting one of the young farmers on a special trip to Beauvais in Northern France as a guest to tour the factory and enjoy an overnight stay.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: “It’s always great fun having the young farmers with us at the Lord Mayor’s Show as it provides the perfect platform to engage with the watching crowds and let them know about farming’s role in producing their food and looking after the iconic British countryside.

“We are hoping this competition, with the added incentive of a trip to the Massey Ferguson factory in France, will help showcase another group of young farmers who’re all enthusiastic and passionate about what they do – producing the nation’s food.”

Hannah Binns, who was part of the young farmer group last year, said: “I believe it is vital that we, as the future generation of farmers, open a dialogue with the public about the provenance of their food and the Lord Mayor’s Show is an excellent way to do so. If you are a young farmer who is passionate about the future of our industry, then why not apply and get your voice heard – I promise you will not regret it.”

The NFU is asking for nominations for young farmers, aged 18-30, who have made an outstanding contribution to the farming sector and who are passionate about the industry. Nominations close on Sunday 19th August and a shortlist of finalists will be drawn up for 31st August by a panel of farming experts.
Nomination Form: https://www.nfuonline.com/news/latest-news/calling-all-young-farmers/

Published in International Pest Control – May/June 2018 issue

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Category: International Pest News, news in brief

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