Business Industry consolidation opens the door to new research and development opportunities. Industry Consolidation 14 | Advancing Seed in Alberta THE face of the many large agri-business companies in Canada is changing. Dow and DuPont recently concluded their merger, ChemChina is currently finalizing their purchase of Syngenta and Bayer is working through the regulatory hurdles as part of their acquisition of Monsanto. With fewer chemical and seed companies on the horizon, it’s expected growers will benefit from the kind of high dollar investment in research and development that other big technology industries have seen in recent years. “Consolidation can be good thing, but we need to explain and demonstrate the benefits to our customers,” says Marcus Weidler, head of seeds with Bayer Canada. “It is becoming more and more challenging to bring innovation to market, and companies have to invest heavily to bring new technologies to customers.” The costs to introduce new technologies are often so high due to the amount of time it takes to bring products to market. Bayer’s successful pod shatter reduction technology was launched in 2014, but the company first started work on the technology in the late 1990s. And as a non-GM trait, this technology wasn’t as complex as much of current seed trait research. “We have invested billions in research and development, but not only is science becoming more complex, the regulatory environment can be unpredictable, and that also means more time and more investment,” says Weidler. “We sell to many countries that have different rules and regulations and those rules are constantly evolving. Once a product has been developed, it then requires more money to conduct the number of studies necessary to satisfy the needs of the grower [and] the consumer, and also meet government requirements.” Jeff Nielsen, president of the Grain Growers of Canada, doesn’t see that there will be much change from a seed grower or a farmer perspective following this round of consolidation. “These combined companies will need good local seed growers, and as they bring new seed products to market they will be relying on local seed production to even greater levels,” he says. “Most growers already have established strong connections with all of these companies and even with consolidation, I don’t see them reducing their levels of service. It wouldn’t make business sense.” He says the agriculture industry has been consolidating for the past two decades, and so far, the strong public Marcus Weidler, head of seeds, Bayer Canada Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs director, Monsanto Jeff Nielsen, president, Grain Growers of Canada