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Nufarm sees potential in Barrier Reef research

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Thursday 31st August 2000

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Chemical manufacturer Nufarm will spend A$2 million over the next three years on research into a potential new class of natural herbicides which target nine of the world's ten worst weeds.

The company has entered into an agreement with James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science which are working together to isolate and develop the new herbicides. Nufarm will have the right to commercialise any of the findings of the research program on an exclusive, worldwide basis.

Research is centred on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which has almost no free-living plant life despite excellent growing conditions. It's believed that reef organisms produce compounds that target key proteins in plants, disrupting the photosynthesis process.

Described as 'natural herbicides' the compounds are understood to be harmless to major crop species but effective against most of the world's worst weeds.

A number of these compounds have now been isolated and are being evaluated for their selective herbicidal activity, with the aim of taking at least one of them into larger scale development.

Nufarm's MD, Doug Rathbone, says the research project is of a very high standard and is ideally positioned for a focused research and development program with a strong commercial outcome.

"As a company with a growing, global position in crop protection, Nufarm is very excited about securing rights to what could be extremely valuable product opportunities."

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