Weeds are a major problem encountered in crop farming. They compete with crops for water and nutrients, and as a result, decrease crop yield and productivity. The advent of herbicide-resistant crops represents one of the first advances in agricultural biotechnology that has been successfully commercially implemented world wide. The planting of herbicide resistant crops enables the farmer to apply broad spectrum herbicides to their fields without risking damage to their crops and at the same time destroying various species of weeds which may be invading.
Phosphinothricin (also known as glufosinate, trade names BASTA, Buster and Liberty) is one of the most commonly applied broad spectrum herbicides and resistance to this herbicide is realized upon the insertion of the bar phosphinothricin resistance gene in the crop plant. The bar gene is isolated from species of bacteria, for example, Streptomyces and Alcaligenes, which are resistant to phosphinothricin. The mechanism of this resistance is discussed in this technology landscape.
This technology landscape is divided into two chapters, the first of which provides a brief introduction to herbicide resistance. The second chapter discusses the bar gene in detail and analyzes the patent landscape surrounding the bar gene and its use. As discussed, there is essentially one owner, Bayer Crop Sciences, of the majority of bar gene patents. The path of acquisition of these patents by this global agricultural and environmental science company is also presented.