ARGENTINA- Bioceres, an Argentine biotech firm, plans to expand its HB4 wheat seeds sales by partnering with 45 seed multiplier firms ahead of planting season, said Bioceres Chief Executive Officer Federico Trucco in the company’s latest earnings report.

HB4 wheat harnesses the power of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) by introducing sunflower genes into the wheat DNA to improve crop productivity.

The HB4 gene encodes the protein HAHB4 (Helianthus Annuus Homeobox-4), which binds to specific sequences of wheat DNA and regulates the expression of certain genes. 

The levels of this protein naturally increase upon environmental stress, such as drought stress.

Additionally, the presence of this gene delays the process of senescence, giving the crops time to wait for the return of regular water availability. 

According to an announcement by Bioceres, this marketing plan marks an advance for the adoption of Bioceres’ proprietary HB4 wheat.

Argentina became the first country in the world to approve the HB4 variety in 2020 but the company still has an opportunity to grow its sales in the country through these proposed partnerships.

So far, the distribution of HB4 wheat in Argentina has been via private deals between farmers and Bioceres. Therefore, ramping up sales to farmers from the shelves of seed multiplier companies would likely boost the spread of the biotech product.

The 45-partner sales plan translates to a significant expansion from last season when only three seed multiplier companies were authorized to work with HB4 seeds.

Argentina is a top global wheat exporter, although production for the 2022/2023 harvest suffered a 50% drop in expected output compared to last season due to historic drought conditions last year and earlier this year.

Planting for Argentina’s 2023/2024 wheat season will begin in the next few weeks, and these partnerships by Bioceres could see the HB4 wheat adoption accelerating in the country, boosting wheat production this year.

Brazil is another South American country to give the green light for the marketing of HB4 wheat and a soybean variety of the GMO HB4 brand.

Our soybean program in Brazil is advancing steadily with an initial set of varieties tested by farmers in five states, with at least one variety consistently outperforming leading commercial alternatives,” said Trucco.

Meanwhile, Bioceres registered total revenues of US$93.6 million in its recently completed fiscal third quarter, surpassing analysts’ expectations by 5%.

The sales total represented an increase of 33% over the Argentina-based company’s third-quarter performance last year, with topline growth primarily driven by revenues in the Crop Nutrition segment, resulting from the initial proceeds generated by a new strategic partnership with Syngenta.

The global commercial and R&D collaboration between Bioceres and Syngenta announced last September made Syngenta Seedcare the exclusive global commercialization distributor for Bioceres’ biological seed treatment solutions, except in Argentina, where they already had an existing agreement. 

Under the long-term R&D collaboration, the companies will jointly develop new products while accelerating the registration of products already in the pipeline.

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