China's approval of DowDuPont soy presents Bayer challenge

CHICAGO: China's approval of the import of a DowDuPont Inc genetically modified soybean puts rival Bayer AG on defensive, investors and analysts say, as US farmers will have a new choice when planting most valuable agricultural exports.

Bayer-owned Monsanto has long dominated the US $ 40 billion US soybean market. However, the market has opened up, as Monsanto's Roundup Ready Seed Line – designed to tolerate mining glyphosate – has lost efficacy as weeds develop chemical tolerance.

China removed the way for American farmers to eventually plant DowDuPont's Enlist E3 soybeans, which can withstand three herbicides, by approving the import of the crop on Tuesday.

For years, the company had postponed the launch of the seeds while waiting for the node from Beijing. China bought about 60 percent of US soy producers, worth around $ 12 billion, before the ongoing US-China trade war, and was able to reject shipments of unauthorized variants.

Farmers have settled since China imposed a tariff on imports of US soy July as part of the trade war, where the world's two largest economies have hit billions of dollars on each other's products.

Michael Underhill, Investment Manager of Capital Innovations, which owns shares in DowDuPont, said China's approval of Enlist E3 soy will eventually lead to large orders for the company.

"When I think about how big a deal this is, I think of the Led Zeppelin song" When Levee Breaks, "Said Underhill." Competition is going to be tough. Enlist E3 soybeans are bred to resist herbicides glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D.

The seeds will challenge Roundup Clear 2 Xtend soybeans developed by Monsanto, that can resist glyphosate and a newer version of a chemical called dicamba.

Corteva Agroquience, the agricultural unit of DowDuPont, said it was gratifying that regulatory approval of its seed functions was developing in China. requests for more information.

Bayer spokesman Darren Wallis said in an e-mail statement that Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans was the first feature platform in the market, complaining about China's slow regulatory approval process in a previous statement.

US Farmers planted Xtend soybeans at about 45 percent soybean in 2018. Bayer, who bought Monsanto for about $ 63 billion last year, says dicamba and Xtend seeds work well to control weeds.

But last year in the Cleveland Research Company report seen by Reuters that within a few years of launch, the Enlist herbicide and chemical resistant platform could gain a comparable market share to Bayer's Xtend platform.

"We see that Xtend's American soybean market share erodes several years as Corteva pushes its own Enlist platform, the report says.

DowDuPont developed Enlist E3 soybeans with a small seed company called MS Technologies, said Harry Stine, CEO in Stine Seed, affiliated with MS Technologies.

Enlist E3 soy will probably not be fully launched in the US this year because it still lacks approval from another market, the Philippines, said Stine, however, expecting significant US plantings of the seed in 2020.

Enlist E3 soy can find an opening with farmers unhappy with Bayer's dicamba-resistant Xtend soybeans Monsanto has been sued by farmers saying dicamba goes away from where it is sprayed and harms nearby fruits, vegetables and other crops that do not. can withstand the chemical.

Enlist E3 soybeans can be sprayed with a herbicide based on chemical 2,4-D.

"It's not at all id All of it, "said Stine about the raised herbicide. "That's what sets it apart from other things."

Richard Wilkins, a Delaware farmer who grows about 400 acres of soybeans and a former head of the American Soybean Association, has not planted Xtend soybeans due to the risk of dicamba damage in nearby vegetables.

He said he would ask his seed supplier whether Enlist E3 soy is available and can plant it to control marestail, a hatch that has developed a resistance to glyphosate

"If there are any variants that will work on any of My farm, I will probably try, "he said about Enlist E3 soy.

Missouri farmer Milas Mainord said he would also consider planting Enlist E3 soy, but wanted more information. He plans to plant Bayer soybeans and rival BASF on some of his 5,500 acres this spring.

"The most important thing we want before we open ourselves to Enlist is some history with it and what kind of dividends we can expect from it," said Mainord.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; editing by Leslie Adler)

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