Bayer CropScience AG, Mertec LLC and M.S. Technologies LLC have entered into a long-term collaboration agreement to jointly develop and commercialize several innovative trait technology products in soybeans.

The products are destined for the U.S. market with the opportunity to expand to other soybean growing countries.

Under the agreement Bayer CropScience and M.S. Technologies will combine proprietary technologies and will make them available for insertion into high-yielding elite germplasm contributed by Mertec LLC. The agreement allows for resulting traits and products to be broadly licensed to the seed industry.

Bayer CropScience will undertake to obtain the necessary global authorizations for the soybean traits developed under the collaboration agreement and to obtain approvals for the associated herbicide use.

One of the first products expected from the collaboration will be soybean varieties with tolerance to both glyphosate and to HPPD inhibitors, a class of herbicides that include Bayer's Balance Pro brand isoxaflutole, currently used in corn in the United States.

The combination of HPPD inhibitors tolerance plus glyphosate tolerance will offer growers flexibility in their herbicide choices, with the herbicide combination offering the potential for one pass weed control as well as effective weed resistance management.

These products are expected to be followed by other multi-trait combinations, including a triple herbicide tolerant stack with LibertyLink, thus further broadening choices for farmers.

“We are very pleased that together with these strong partners Mertec and M.S. Technologies, we can offer both traits and new herbicide options, giving growers a host of new weed control options for their soybean crops” said Friedrich Berschauer, CEO of Bayer CropScience. “We consider this a further step in our strategy to maximize the value of our innovative biotech traits coming out of our extensive research pipeline and to strengthen our position in the U.S soybean market.”

“We are excited by the potential benefits this collaboration with Bayer CropScience offers to growers and the industry,” said Harry H. Stine, a director of M.S. Technologies. “As a result of this collaboration, soybean growers will have better solutions to optimize productivity and maximize per acre profits. We are pleased to be working with Bayer, whose knowledge of herbicide technology and worldwide regulatory expertise will help us bring these novel products to market.”

The collaboration builds on the existing relationship between Bayer CropScience and M.S. Technologies, a key partner in the development of Bayer CropScience's LibertyLink herbicide tolerant trait in soybeans. As a result of this already existing cooperation, LibertyLink soybeans are planned to be introduced to the market in 2009.

LibertyLink will be the only alternative non-selective herbicide tolerant system enabling growers to maintain current production practices, but rotate weed management systems in order to avoid weed resistance.