Innovation key to meeting food demand for world’s population

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Finding a way to feed 3 billion more people in the next 30 years seems like a difficult challenge, especially when you consider there is very little arable land left in the world that isn't already being farmed.

The question of whether farmers can meet that challenge was one of the topics of discussion for executives and food experts attending BASF's 2014 North American Agricultural Solutions Media Summit in Durham, N.C. 

"It is a formidable challenge, and we really believe the path to feeding 9 billion people through the next three decades comes through innovation," says Nevin McDougall, senior vice president, North America, Crop Protection for BASF. "Innovation through new technologies, new application methods, new ways of growing our feed.

"We really believe that investing in new innovation is a pathway to a sustainable future," said McDougall, a native of Toronto, Canada, who was group vice president for agricultural products for BASF's Asia Pacific operations before assuming his current position in the U.S.

McDougall said BASF is now putting 9 percent to 10 percent of its annual revenue back into its research and development efforts or about $2 million a day into trying to find and develop new agricultural products.

That's a significant amount of money for a company BASF's size until you realize it can cost $300 million to $400 million over 10 years to bring one new compound to market. That's an expense BASF is willing to risk. 

"We have a very strong pipeline with many new products in development for the next five to six years," said McDougall. "But also, of course, many new products coming to market here in the next 12 to 18 months."

Among the products announced at the media event: a new miticide named Nealta for specialty crops and Sultan, a similar product for ornamentals. 

"We're also very excited about the launch of a new herbicide, Engenia," he said. "Engenia is the latest and most advanced technology for dicamba, which will be used in herbicide-tolerant crops, such as soybeans and cotton."

Limus is a new urease inhibitor that will support better nutrient management for growers in North America. "Those are examples of some near-term innovations that are close to launch that again reinforce our commitment to agriculture and providing innovative solutions to growers.

For more on dicamba-tolerant crops, see Specialty crop group petitions EPA on herbicide-resistant crops

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