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Bayer acquisition spotlights biopesticides

The July acquisition of AgraQuest, a 16-year-old biopesticide company, by Bayer CropSciences (BCS), provides validation to a sector that has attracted interest from major agbiotech firms. The Monheim am Rhein, Germany–based agriculture giant agreed to acquire AgraQuest for $425 million plus milestones. This follows a series of deals between the biotech and large agriculture firms, such as BASF and Monsanto, and Bayer's 2010 acquisition of the Israeli biopesticide firm AgroGreen. The news is welcome to the Davis, California, area, where the company's R&D site is expected to expand.

The acquisition of AgraQuest gives BCS access to the company's 'green' product lines, which will be integrated into its platforms for crop protection and pest control. AgraQuest touts its line of fungicides and insecticides as comparatively immune to resistance problems. Standard single-chemical agents attack only one pathway, whereas microbiological agents produce a variety of active compounds. AgraQuest's flagship product, Serenade, contains a patented strain of Bacillus subtilis that produces more than 30 active lipopeptides, according to company literature. These protect against a variety of fungi and bacteria, including fire blight, botrytis, sour rot, rust, sclerotinia, powdery mildew, bacterial spot and white mold.

Mark Faust, a consultant and principal of Cincinnati-based Echelon Management International, sees value in companies that establish synergies among approaches versus those trying to create magic bullets. “Magic bullets don't work forever. Evolution happens. Things change. I think these synergistic approaches tend to last longer and be more resistant to evolution,” he says.


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Kling, J. Bayer acquisition spotlights biopesticides. Nat Biotechnol 30, 810 (2012).

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