Bayer hopes merger will aid wheat program

Potential merger with Monsanto should accelerate work with hybrid wheat varieties, says Bayer’s research head

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Wheat will be one of the crops that benefits most from Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto, say the heads of research for both organizations.

“Wheat is one of the areas that this potential merger is going to really accelerate,” Adrian Percy, global head of research and development with Bayer, told reporters attending a news conference at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio.

Bayer launched its wheat breeding program in 2010 and hopes to have hybrids on the market in the 2020s. It has also invested heavily in wheat chemistry. Monsanto’s strength is germplasm and traits.

“Bringing these two programs together is really going to accelerate the innovation that we certainly need in the cereal area,” said Percy.

Robert Fraley, chief technology officer with Monsanto, said wheat is an example of a crop that does not have the level of investment it needs in either Bayer’s or Monsanto’s individual programs.

“You put those together and you create the capability to bring a lot of new technology into wheat,” he said.

“I’m excited about it because I think wheat is a crop that quite frankly needs new technology, and the technology is there and I think we can apply it.”

Bayer has made submissions in 20 of the 30 jurisdictions where the merger requires regulatory approval. Percy said everything is on track, and the company anticipates the deal closing by the end of this year.

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“This deal between Monsanto and Bayer is all about innovation,” he said.

“It’s all about accelerating innovation and about growth.”

Percy provided an example of how the merger will get new products to market faster. He said chemical companies introduce new herbicides and then it might take a decade before a seed technology company comes up with a herbicide tolerant trait to pair with the chemistry.

“With this combination, we have the opportunity to co-develop,” he said.

If the deal receives all the necessary regulatory approval, the new research and development team will consist of 10,000 researchers, technicians and scientists, half from each company. It will have a $3.5 billion annual budget.

Fraley said he was initially “taken aback” and did a little head shaking when he heard that Bayer was attempting to acquire Monsanto.

But after some reflection, he realized Monsanto had come to the conclusion over the last three or four years that it needed to invest more in research and development, and this was the perfect opportunity to obtain that extra capital.

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“We’re going to improve yields dramatically, we’re going to reduce farmers’ costs and we’re going to help simplify a lot of the decision making,” he said.

Fraley doesn’t believe there will be too much trouble with regulators because the two companies have complementary businesses with little overlap. Bayer is focused on chemistry and Monsanto on traits and data management.

One area where there is significant overlap is canola breeding. They are the two big players in that crop. The new entity would account for 65 percent of canola acres in Canada and 95 percent of the canola trait business.

Percy said Bayer recognizes the combined company would have a huge market share in canola.

“Possibly divestment is an option, but that’s something that has to be discussed with the regulators,” he said.

Fraley said transparency and public discourse will be crucial when introducing any new products.

“Certainly if there’s anything that we’ve learned from our experience with GMOs, is we know that good science by itself is not enough,” he said.

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“It has to be accompanied by great communication and a transparent relationship with the public.”

  • Omg can’t believe this is news

    Oh brother , if you start forcing us to buy wheat seed . Forget it , I and many like me will quit . Already hundreds of farmers are getting off the bs canola hybrid tread mill . While many others are just forced out the game because of a devasting year to agriculture . Leaving many with inflated input costs and very little cash to meet their commitments . Which invariably include over priced canola seed . No to mention the zero tolerance for gmo products in Europe and Asia . So quit trying to destroy the food chain . And above all the hard working families that put food on the table for billions of people .

    • Denise

      Don’t allow it to happen. Canada used to have the most beautiful wheat in the world. I hope we still do. Keep it safe from these plunderers.

      • Denise

        But farmers stop desiccating our wheat. Canadians are sick to death, literally, from your addiction to glyphosate (Roundup). Check out Tony Mitra’s research in : Poison Food of North America.

    • ed

      Yes, canola seed should be about $1 an acre. If we can lower our costs even the equivalent of 10-15 bushels per acre on average it would increase the price enough that farmers could bring in substantially more net $$s annually to their operations. That is the name of the game right. Following the pied piper is not going to get you anywhere!

  • razorjack

    It’s pretty easy to see that this is not a good thing for the human race or the planet.

  • patzagame

    What we need to feed the world is GMO wheat,thank you Bayer/Monsanto,how can we possibly survive without you? Make sure it’s herbicide resistant/pesticide producing genetically engineered,and don’t do any human health studies that may be required by our so called safety regulatory agencies. Why? because transparency and public discourse will be crucial when introducing any new products.

  • SageThinker

    They are disgusting immoral companies … Innovation is great but these entities are so far beyond the pale in terms of integrity … Progress can be made in an open source way and with many other companies …

  • April Reeves

    Would not eat it anyway, as I refuse to support anything Monsanto or Bayer. Besides, gluten free foods taste better. Many more will also quit wheat, and farmers will only grow what we eat. And we know there is far better food on small farms than big corporations. PS: dont care if its engineered or not. More about corporate greed that has to end.

    • Harold

      Many people forget in their Monsanto protests to stop buying ethanol gasoline or cotton clothing, unless it is labeled organic. If you are buying any ethanol it is GMO crop that they using, and GMO cotton is used by the clothing industry. If you only stop buying GMO food, Monsanto still wins; sneaky eh? You probably thought like most, that Ethanol is here for some viable sound reason other than to support Monsanto’s wealth and power; its not. Unfortunately, I believe that sneakily, all gas is blended unless you purchase premium. With no-name gas stations which have become very popular everywhere, you really haven’t a clue of what blend you are buying. Hidden from consumer thought, consumers will not press the government for full disclosure labels at each gas station. Monsanto is not stupid by any means. After all, aren’t we told that it is “mother nature’s gas station”. Kinda warms you up and gives you a smile doesn’t it? How much money would Monsanto/Bayer loose if ethanol was made from organic crop and clothing was made from organic cotton? He sure makes a lot of “safe” money being only the “safe” middle man lobbying the “safe” government and peddling a ‘Safe” religion. It’s a good job if you want to become rich and have the slaves pick up your “safe” shovels.
      The sole purpose of plant engineering in any of its forms is to capture the food with a patent. “Organic” cannot be captured by any patent in any way, shape, or form and It is this truth that stands in front of the Anti-“organic” rhetoric and the “anti-science” BS. Moreover, we are becoming more gluten intolerant because our gut bacteria’s are totally imbalanced and the remaining bacteria cannot “mine out” the minerals and nutrients from our food and adequately disassemble gluten. Glyphosate, along with other pesticides in our food and drinks, are being consumed and the vital bacteria with a lower resistance (many) are destroyed creating an imbalance. It is almost impossible to correct the imbalance because our food is untested and the food/drink source of the pesticide is unknown to the consumer, and the consumers Doctor. This is the space that the Agra minions stand in and shout that “there is no proof” while the consumer is off being medicated. Further It also does not aide the gut bacteria when we buy into the “safe level” BS of the food/chemical industry. One example is Salmonella and it is tolerant to glyphosate which is why our chicken is so over-run by it after a steady diet of GMO feed. Animal gut health affects animals in the same way and factory and feedlot animals are sick and we eat their sickness and medications.
      Corporate monopoly control has to end, in favor of smaller and easier to control farmer run and directed enterprises and job creation. Canadians will then eat the healthy animals, and Cargil Canada can send its sick corporate commodity (they are not animals) to Cargil USA where Cargil is owned until Canada has no room left for Cargil. Sounds fitting; sounds new Canadian.

  • Sheryl McCumsey

    Oh since we have dramatically increased the use of glyphosate, which is patented as an antibiotic by the way…Monsanto now has a pro-biotic for the soil. They are the best at selling something to create a problem and then selling something else to fix it. They are all about the farmers alright. Their profits go up and farmers health goes down………..along with the entire North American continent. How we all love you for our IBS! Thank you Monsanto!

  • NewWest 123

    I’ve been using Bayer products in my yard for years…If used properly, you get excellent results… And I still get the bees and the bugs. my plants are all healthy and happy.
    If Bayer wants to partner with Monsanto, that’s their business. Montsanto does this anyway.
    Besides, we have no control as Montsanto owns just about every politician there is…
    P.S.I still use Canola oil…..

    • Harold

      There is nothing further from the truth than “we have no control”.
      Further, Monsanto and Bayer can do what they wish at anytime just like the rest of us, and they can also do what they wish when they are bankrupt, just like the rest of us. On a side note, some of us support the “Lady” who owns the “Brothel” and some of us support the “Priest” of the “Church”. In both cases, one will come out “happy”.