Bayer to invest millions in sustainable agriculture by 2024

Pharmaceutical company Bayer has announced it will invest €1.3 billion in its impact investment unit over the next three years, which will drive innovation in sustainable agriculture and aid food security.

The unit known as ‘Leaps by Bayer’, is tackling 10 of society’s biggest challenges including reducing the environmental impact of the agricultural sector and creating a more resilient food system.

At the company’s ‘Breakthrough Innovation Forum’ on April 1, a number of experts and executives from the company outlined how forthcoming innovations will provide a number of farming solutions “to make agriculture more sustainable and less resource intensive”.

The company has already invested more than €1.3 billion in 50 different companies across the agricultural and life sciences sectors. One such innovation as a result of this previous investment is a ‘Smart Corn System’.

Using RNA interference technology, Bayer recently launched a biotech defence system against corn rootworm, an insect pest that can cause severe damage to corn crops.

Rootworm interferes with the corn pollination process, which can result in poorly filled ears of corn, large losses for the farmer and disruptions to food supply chains.

Under the defence system, farmers can control the pest that can cost them up to €1 billion annually in damage, while at the same time reducing the need for crop protections.

The company is set to bring a new, more weather-resistant plant to the market known as short-stature corn. The new species can withstand more severe weather conditions that are emerging through climate change, thereby reducing losses and contributing to food security.

Rodrigo Santos, company board member and president of the crop science division at Bayer said:

“Bayer’s research and development investment of €2 billion annually in our crop science division is unparalleled in the industry, leading to a robust innovation pipeline spanning seeds and trait technologies, crop protection and digital solutions valued at up to €30 billion peak sales potential over the next two decades.”

The company is also running a carbon initiative, which incentivises farmers to embrace the use of climate smart practices such as no-till or cover crops, and uses technology to track the impact of these methods.

Chair of the board of management of Bayer AG, Werner Baumann said:

“Our ability to tackle some of the greatest challenges is increasing rapidly. From equipping people with preventive tools to live healthier and longer lives, to producing more agricultural output whilst significantly reducing inputs and respecting the planetary boundaries.

“Bayer is further stepping up its efforts to be a driver of this new era of innovation,” he concluded.