GRDC Enters $45 Million Deal with Bayer CropScience to Fight Weeds
The Grains Research and Development Corp. (GRDC) has entered into a five-year, $45 million partnership with Bayer CropScience to strengthen scientific research to fight weeds in Australia.
Under the terms of the agreement, GRDC will commit $45 million over five years to fund 40 additional chemistry and biology researchers at Bayer CropSciences’ labs in Frankfurt, Germany. The additional staff will include 11 Australian post-doctoral researchers from Australian universities who are scheduled to begin work at the facility in November of this year.
Because of the scale of North American and European grain production, the majority of global research on weeds and resistance has been concentrated on those continents. But weed and herbicide resistance is a main challenge to Australian producers, costing the industry $3 billion per year, according to the GRDC. This partnership will bring Australian weeds to the fore of scientific efforts, focusing on weeds that are particular to Australia, and then testing herbicides under Australian conditions, in Australia.
As weeds become more resistant to glyphosate, discovering and developing new chemicals is becoming more urgent, however, science within the field has slowed. In the 1990’s there were approximately 250 patents registered worldwide per year, today that number has fallen to less than 50. In response, the GRDC has increased the percentage of its total investments dedicated to ag research from 20% fifty years ago to closer to 60% today.
While the work being done under this agreement will be focused on developing herbicides particular to Australia, it may be, that what is produced could have global applications. Either way there will be success fees earned by the GRDC that can be reinvested into advancing Australian agriculture.