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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Bayer, BASF to Challenge Monsanto's Reign Over Brazilian Seed Market

Bayer AG and BASF SE are planning to introduce new varieties of genetically modified soybean seeds to Brazil this year in an attempt at breaking Monsanto’s decade-long control of the country’s seed market, reports Bloomberg.

Marketed as an alternative to Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant seeds, Bayer CropScience will begin selling soybean seeds within Brazil that are resistant to the herbicide glufosinate ammonium prior to the planting season beginning this October. With expectations that the seed will be planted by as many as 2,000 farmers this year, the move will be a re-entrance to the Brazilian market for Bayer, which exited ten years ago upon selling its soybean and corn seed assets located there.

Although genetically modified crops are a point of contention in many markets, modified seeds designed to be resistant to glyphosate account for 94% of all soybeans planted in Brazil, according to Celeres reports Bloomberg. However, after decades of use, there are indications that glyphosate is becoming less effective – a fact that rivals can leverage to gain market share.

BASF will also introduce its new herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, Cultivance, which it developed in partnership with Brazil’s state-run research agency Embrapa, onto the Brazilian market this year. Soybeans account for approximately 50% of Brazil’s total grain production, with this year’s harvest forecast to exceed 100 million tons. And BASF told Bloomberg in an emailed statement that the company expects to garner as much as 10% of the soybean seed market within the coming few years.

Both companies can expect stiff competition from Monsanto however, as its Intacta RR2 PRO soybean seed has become the company’s fastest growing biotechnology trait in the three years since its introduction, reports AgWeb. During 2016, use of Intacta soybean seeds is expected to double to 35 million acres, and reach 75 million acres by 2019, according to Monsanto spokesperson, Sarah Miller.

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