Bayer CropScience Executive Sees Bright Future

Mike Deall says technology is the key to feeding the world.

Published on: Feb 27, 2008

A growing world needs effective crop protection products and Bayer Crop Science is poised to deliver.

"Going back 15 years, I remember hearing how the growing world population would have an effect on the crop protection business. We're now starting to see this," says Mike Deall, vice president of global marketing for Bayer CropScience. "The huge vacuum effect that China has on the world economy translates to agriculture."

Deall spoke to journalists in Nashville Wednesday prior to the Commodity Classic.

Growing wealth in China and dramatic increases in world population are driving new food consumption trends. As the world's middle class population grows, more meat is consumed, a trend that drives demand for feed grains and in turn, demand for acreage.

            Mike Deall

"Grain stocks are very low right now. It is unlikely that, coupled with demand, it will be hard to catch up. I've heard global corn stocks are down to 40 days. If that's true, and there is a dry spell somewhere in the U.S., this will drive prices even higher," Deall says.

In 1950, there were 2.5 billion people on the earth. There were 1.3 billion hectares of farmland per person. In 2000, population had climbed to 6.1 billion people, and 1.5 billion hectares of cropland. By 2050, there will be 9.2 billion people farming the same acreage.

"You can't make more land," Deall says. "Without technology, you cannot feed the world's population in 2050."

Bayer CropScience spends about 625 million Euros ($945 million) each year on research and development. While most of the investment now centers around new crop protection chemistries, the company's investment in trait technology is on the upswing.

"Whether it is a trait or a new chemistry, from the birth of an idea to product launch is at least 10 years and maybe longer," Deall says. "We try to understand the future needs of farmers."

Deall adds that the company is researching how crops might react to environmental stresses caused by abiotic (environmental) stresses, such as drought, extreme temperatures, high winds – all of which could be a result of climate change.

"We want to be a leading partner in quality food, feed, fiber and fuel. Bayer Crop Science will deliver innovation which will drive technology for the future of agriculture," he says.