Monthly Archives: May 2016

Bayer offers US$62 billion for Monsanto

German-based chemicals giant Bayer AG has reportedly offered US$122 in cash per share in its bid to acquire Monsanto, valuing the US agchem company at US$62 billion. This represents a 35 per cent premium over the company’s share price on the day before the offer was made.

Bayer, which admitted its interest in Monsanto last week, says the two companies would be beneficial, in particularly combining its own strength in crop protection and plant health with Monsanto’s breeding and seed portfolio. This is an area Bayer has been exploring in recent years; including its acquisition of Dutch seed company Nunhems.

James Blome, CEO of Bayer Crop Science, has reportedly said that said that if the deal is approved the headquarters for joint crop science efforts would be in St. Louis in the Unites States.

Bayer AG CEO Werner Baumann said on Monday, “We have long respected Monsanto’s business and share their vision to create an integrated business that we believe is capable of generating substantial value for both companies’ shareholders. Together we would draw on the collective expertise of both companies to build a leading agriculture player with exceptional innovation capabilities to the benefit of farmers, consumers, our employees and the communities in which we operate.”

The post Bayer offers US$62 billion for Monsanto appeared first on Hort News on Tuesday 24 Mya 2016.

Valley Grown opens new glass

Valley Grown Nurseries has official opened its latest block of glass following its lengthy legal battle with local planning authorities.

Unveiling the first 9.7 ha of new glass at Nazeing near Harlow, business co-owner of the company Jimmy Russo slammed the behaviour of Lee Valley Regional Park but thanked both the NFU and Lea Valley Growers Association (LVGA) for their support during the process. “This project has no downside,” he claimed, adding: “Hopefully this has set a precedent for all growers regarding planning.”

NFU President Meurig Raymond was one of the guests at the opening and said, “Self-sufficiency in the horticultural industry has fallen for a number of years. We now import four out of every five tomatoes eaten in this country, at a time when the public is actively seeking to buy quality British produce.

“There is tremendous scope to grow more salad crops to meet public demand, but modern agriculture and horticulture require investment in modern buildings and modern facilities. That’s why this new development is so welcome. I’m delighted that the NFU supported Valley Grown Nurseries through the planning process and I hope we will see more schemes like this in the future.”

Lee Stiles, of LVGA added, “We have a great opportunity to grow more local food, reduce food imports and create local jobs through glasshouse expansion in the Lea Valley.”

HN RC 294

The post Valley Grown opens new glass appeared first on Hort News.

Most UK fruit imports from outside EU

Most fruit imported into the UK comes from outside the European Union (60 per cent), whereas the EU is the main source of imported vegetables data shows.

Over the last three years total imports of fruit and veg have risen by 12 per cent. The biggest supplier of fruit to the UK is Spain at 679,523 tonnes of fresh fruit, followed by South Africa and Costa Rica with 346,359 and 303,221 tonnes respectively.

Spain is also the largest supplier of vegetables to the UK supplying 1.01 million tonnes, closely followed by The Netherlands at 744,239 tonnes. Between them these two horticultural powerhouses supply 64 per cent of UK vegetable imports. Tomatoes are one of the main imports, and while the volume of potatoes and carrots fell last year, legumes increased by 55 per cent.

The post Most UK fruit imports from outside EU appeared first on Hort News.

Berry sales rise as bumper harvest looms

Data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that berry sales in the UK now account for a fifth of total fruit consumption making them more popular than apples and bananas as the popularity of juices and smoothies shows no signs of slowing down.

Strawberries are the most popular soft fruit, with sales last year valued at £564,382 million. They were followed by blueberries (£282,962m) and raspberries (£220,336m). Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said, “Berries used to be a luxury item, but now they are a delicious staple, consumed as part of a healthy diet for many people. The sales figures reveal a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is meeting growing consumer demand.”

The figures came as British Summer Fruits predicted a record breaking strawberry harvest this year thanks to ideal spring growing conditions. Up to 74,000 tonnes of the fruit is predicted to be produced over the coming summer. The top retail varieties are Malling Centenary; Elsanta; Sonata; Sweet Eve; Driscoll’s Jubilee; Ava Rosa; Red Glory; and Capri.

The post Berry sales rise as bumper harvest looms appeared first on Hort News.

Latest UN report says glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer

Just ahead of the latest EU vote on the approval of glyphosate, UN scientists have said that the herbicide is ‘unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.’

The finding comes from the UN’s Joint Meeting on Pesticides Residues (JMPR) and contradicts an opinion from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) specialist cancer research agency IARC, which classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ last year. The JMPR included experts from the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

According to JMPR scientists, ‘Overall, there is some evidence of a positive association between glyphosate exposure and risk of NHL [Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system],’ but pointed out that results of the only large-scale study showed no link. Most of the evidence for a link to cancer comes from some, but not all, studies on rodents: ‘In view of the absence of carcinogenic potential in rodents at human-relevant doses and the absence of genotoxicity by the oral route in mammals, and considering the epidemiological evidence from occupational exposures, the meeting concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.’ Glyphosate is also ‘unlikely to be genotoxic at anticipated dietary exposures.’

The group recommended that the acceptable daily intake limit (ADI) for glyphosate should remain at 0-1mg per kilo of body weight, the current level. Last year’s recommendation by EFSA to increase the glyphosate residue threshold from 0.3mg to 0.5 mg/kg is still within these limits.

Photo credit: 123RF – Hans Slegers

The post Latest UN report says glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer appeared first on Hort News.

Defra criticised for importing food

Despite its recent launch of the ‘Great British Food Unit’ to promote the sale of British produce, recent statistics have revealed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) building in London sources 44% of its food from overseas producers.

The revelation came in answer to a written question from shadow environment, food and rural affairs minister Nick Smith who described the findings as, “Disappointing and surprising.”

According to Defra, between January and March this year just 56 per cent of the food sourced for Nobel House in London came from British producers, a rise of 4 per cent on the previous three months.

A Defra spokesperson said, “Defra is committed to buying British, which is where 100% of our bacon, sausages, beef, lamb, turkey, cabbage, cauliflowers, swede, carrots, milk and yoghurt come from. We also promote in season British fruit and veg. While there will always be foods we have to import, like bananas, tea and coffee, we know more can be done which is why central government have committed to buying fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food by 2017.”

Photo Credit: Nick Smith MP

The post Defra criticised for importing food appeared first on Hort News.

Is Bayer lining up to buy Monsanto?

According to the news agency Bloomberg, multinational chemical company Bayer AG may be preparing to purchase Monsanto.

Reports suggest that the German-based business has already held internal discussions and has talked to advisors about the possible deal which, if successful, would create the world’s largest agrochemical and seed company.

With a valuation of around €79 billion, Bayer is almost twice as big as Monsanto which has an estimated market value of €43 billion. However, financial analysts have suggested that Bayer would need to sell off certain assets to obtain sufficient funds for a deal and also point out that such a large merger would create ant-trust and competition issues around the world. ‘Competition regulators are already investigating the $130 billion merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., while national security officials in the U.S. weigh China National Chemical Corp.’s bid to acquire Syngenta AG of Switzerland for $43 billion,’ says Bloomberg.

In a conference call with analysts on 26 April, Liam Condon, head of crop sciences at Bayer, said, “We’ve always said that we want to build out further our seeds business. We’ve had some acquisitions, minor or smaller acquisitions that we’ve made, and we continue to look at all options that create value for Bayer.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post Is Bayer lining up to buy Monsanto? appeared first on Hort News on Wednesday 18 May 2016.

Sainsbury’s trials trailer with natural refrigerant

Sainsbury’s has become the first company in the world to take delivery of Carrier Transicold’s prototype natural refrigerant trailer unit.

The new generation of transport refrigeration system for trailers operate exclusively with carbon dioxide (CO2) refrigerant, which has a global warming potential (GWP) of just one making it the baseline against which all other refrigerants are measured. The GWP of CO2 is also lower than other natural refrigerants, such as propane and ammonia and it is non-ozone depleting.

The delivery marks the first of three units to join the Sainsbury’s fleet this year as part of a three-year technology field trial and builds on the success of a 2013 pilot, which saw the supermarket operate a modified refrigeration system for ocean containers – making it the first naturally refrigerated trailer operating anywhere in the world.

Gary King, operations support manager for Sainsbury’s commented, “The beauty of Carrier Transicold’s prototype trailer unit is it delivers a massive reduction in F-Gases by using natural refrigerant. This will directly help us achieve our ambitious environmental and sustainability goals, whilst delivering a seismic leap forward in terms of sustainability within the cold chain.”


Photo Credit:

The post Sainsbury’s trials trailer with natural refrigerant appeared first on Hort News.

Young Horticulturalist of the Year crowned

RHS Wisley student Lawrence Wright has been names as the overall winner of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016 at the finals held at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin on May 7th.

Lawrence, currently studying at RHS Wisely, received the £2500 Travel Bursary provided by the Percy Thrower Trust and will be able to use it to further his horticultural career anywhere in the world.

Lawrence, who won the South East Branch heat to get his place in the final, receives a £2,500 Travel Bursary provided by the Percy Thrower Trust, which he will be able to use to further his horticultural career anywhere in the world. The runner-up in the competition was Joshua Stevens while third place went to Fern Champney.

Stephen Kynaston, of Platinum Sponsor the Shropshire Horticulture Society said of the competition, “The health of anything in society can be gauged by the enthusiasm and commitment of young people, and so today shows how verdant the horticulture industry is.”

Last year’s winner Jessica Evans, who is now Senior Gardener at the National Trust’s Tintinhull Gardens in Somerset, commented, “I am delighted to have won the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 competition and look forward to using the travel bursary to further my training in horticulture. Having finished second in the competition last year, my over-whelming emotion when the final scores were announced was relief, especially as this was the last year I would be eligible to enter. I would now really like to support the running of the competition, and to encourage others to take part, as it is vitally important to celebrate the quality and knowledge of young horticulturists.”

Photo credit:

The post Young Horticulturalist of the Year crowned appeared first on Hort News.

Agricultural emissions could be more harmful than fossil fuel

According to new research from Colorado State University (CSU), nitrogen cycle disturbance from emissions of agriculture-related ammonia now exceeds the effects of fossil fuel combustion emissions, in the US at least.

According to the team, ‘No matter what the source, excess nitrogen in the atmosphere, as it cycles through terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in both wet and dry processes, has debilitating environmental impacts. These include increased soil acidification, decreased biodiversity, and changes to the chemistry of lakes and streams.’

Most attention in recent years has focused on the fossil fuels and major strides have been made to stem these emissions. In contrast, ammonia from agricultural processes has received relatively little attention in the US, and ammonia is not a regulated pollutant. The CSU researchers found that ammonium has now surpassed nitrates as the dominant source of nitrogen deposition and subsequent disruption to the nitrogen cycle in the country.

“We are used to thinking of nitrates as driving a lot of the nitrogen deposition, and that was true in the 1980s,” said Jeffrey Collett, who led the team. “But largely because we’ve reduced nitrates so much while ammonium deposition has increased, the balance is now shifted, and ammonium is now a bigger contributor to nitrogen deposition.”

Photo Credit: © chas53 / Fotolia

The post Agricultural emissions could be more harmful than fossil fuel appeared first on Hort News.