Lab-grown microbes could reduce agriculture’s dependence on chemical pesticides and fertilizers

| | August 28, 2018
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

There’s a potentially huge technology risk on the horizon [for] fertilizer companies  ….  next-generation biotech products called microbials ….

Microbials are essentially probiotics for plants. A plant’s root system can feast on a buffet of water and a wide range of nutrients present in the soil. However …. plants are unable to break down or process all the available nutrients without help from friendly bacteria or fungi. These microbes happily colonize a plant’s root system …. to feed themselves and, in turn, feed the plant …. They can also [serve] as a natural defense against [pests]

Scientists can scour farmland for the best soil microbes, isolate them, study them in automated laboratories, select the best performers, grow them in large fermentation tanks, and coat them onto plant seeds. Farmers plant the seeds as they normally would, and reap the naturally protective qualities of biology — all while greatly reducing or eliminating the need for traditional inputs like chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

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The niche industry for microbials exploded …. when Monsanto …. signed a $600 million collaboration agreement with global industrial biotech leader Novozymes. The partnership became the BioAg Alliance …. [Its] first products were capable of increasing corn yield by 4 bushels per acre …. [compared] to the average annual yield increase of 1.9 bushels per acre for American corn farmers since 1986 ….

Read full, original article: This New Biotech Industry Could Pose a Huge Risk to Fertilizer Stocks

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