Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc. (MCAG), and Hokusan Co., Ltd. (HOK), announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley, a significant problem for growers.
Under the terms of the agreement, MCAG and HOK have granted Verdesian an exclusive license to commercialize this expanded usage for Verdesian’s proprietary Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) technologies in all countries except Japan. That means wheat and barley growers will now have access to this technology to help fight mycotoxins through a number of Verdesian products.
Mycotoxins are chemicals that are toxic to humans and livestock, and are a result of fungal infection. The most prevalent pathogen responsible is Fusarium head blight, also known as scab, which causes more than $2 billion in losses worldwide, annually. Small grain producers face devastating yield losses due to poor grain quality, lower test weights and mycotoxin contamination in years when Fusarium head blight is severe. And, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mycotoxins are a growing problem for the cereals industry.
Deoxynivalenol (DON) is one of the most potent mycotoxins. Even low levels of infection can result in unacceptable levels of DON in the grain. Farmers can incur significant losses in income due not only to yield losses but also rejection of wheat and barley shipments due to DON contamination.
While less susceptible varieties, crop rotation and management practices to reduce contaminated grains are common practices to fight infection, the MACG/HOK patent expands the use of Verdesian’s patented SAR products as a valuable method for inhibiting mycotoxin, particularly DON, contamination in cereals.
“Even fungicides with good activity against Fusarium head blight may offer poor suppression of mycotoxins,” said Nigel Grech, executive vice president, science and technology, Verdesian. “In fact, strobilurin fungicides, while controlling Fusarium head blight, can actually induce increases in the level of DON in grain tissues.”
Research shows that Verdesian’s SAR chemistry significantly reduced DON levels to below acceptable levels in wheat and barley, as well as inhibited the strobilurin-induced increase in DON when tank-mixed with azoxystrobin.
“Uniquely, Fusarium head blight of wheat and barley is a disease that, even when infections levels are low, the associated mycotoxins that contaminate the grain can result in crop rejections,” Grech added, which is why the company was interested in this new licensing agreement.
“Verdesian remains committed to developing and acquiring new technologies that improve plant health and increase marketable yield,” said Greg Thompson, chief operating officer for Verdesian. “We’re excited to further the development of our expanding SAR platforms that contribute to a solution for this very serious challenge that affects wheat and barley growers.”
MCAG/HOK distributes certain Verdesian products in Japan, and this new technology represents the culmination of more than 10 years of joint research among the three companies.
“Verdesian Life Sciences, Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co Ltd., have cooperated together on this project for many years,” said Shinya Niimi, manager, Product Development Group, Development Department of MCAG. “We are most pleased that we have concluded an agreement that will result in a technology being available to growers that will greatly benefit food safety.”
Verdesian products that contain this technology will be available for use in late 2014.