Sustainable Solutions for Agriculture
As part of its commitment to bring a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world, Monsanto has expanded its research and development (R&D) efforts to include an Agricultural Biologicals platform. Agricultural biologicals protect crops from pests, weeds and diseases and keep crops healthy. Farmers can rely on agricultural biologicals in addition to breeding, biotechnology and agronomic practices to grow healthy and nutritious food. Monsanto’s Agricultural Biologicals platform focuses on two core technologies: BioDirect™ and microbials.
BioDirect technology leverages naturally occurring processes to develop products for potential use in topically applied crop protection and other products. We’re just beginning to explore this technology, but believe BioDirect may enable the development of products that will expand farmers’ choices through a wide range of applications, including weed, insect, virus control and other applications, such as improving honey bee health.
Monsanto researchers are currently working on applying BioDirect technology to address four challenges farmers face today. All projects are in the early stages of R&D:
- BioDirect Insect Control: Colorado Potato Beetle – This is a biological topical solution with broad applications potentially protecting crops from Colorado potato beetle infestations. In January 2015, this project advanced to Phase II of R&D.
- BioDirect Bee Health – Aims to control Varroa mites and multiple viruses to improve health and colony survival in honey bees. The project is in Phase I of R&D.
- BioDirect Virus Control: Tospovirus Control – This would be the first application in the world to improve plant health by protecting crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, against the tomato spotted wilt virus. The project is in Phase I of R&D.
- BioDirect Weed Control Palmer Amaranth + Waterhemp – This is a product designed to target glyphosate-resistant weeds and provide a more effective spectrum of control. The project is in Phase I of R&D. Beyond this, we are looking at using biologicals with other existing herbicides to create new value through improved weed control.
Using our understanding and expertise of plant and pest genomes, we are exploring ways to use BioDirect technology to precisely target pests that impact agriculture and farmers. BioDirect technology is specific for the intended target. Our research has demonstrated that the application of ribonucleic acids (RNAs) can create very specific results in plants or pests. The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of RNA interference, or RNAi, is one of the most important advances in the life sciences field in decades, and it has enormous potential to help people in areas ranging from medicine to agriculture.
Commercialization of Monsanto's pipeline products is dependent on many factors, including the successful conclusion of the regulatory process.