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Valent BioSciences opens world’s largest biorational plant in Iowa




Iowa Correspondent


OSAGE, Iowa — Valent BioSciences Corp. (VBC) of Libertyville, Ill., recently opened its $146 million state-of-the-art biorational manufacturing facility in Osage, Iowa, which has been called the largest purpose-built biorational facility in the world, according to company officials.

"This is a landmark day for Valent BioSciences, our parent Sumitomo Chemical Co. (SCC), and for the entire biorational segment," Ted Melnik, VBC executive vice president and COO, told reporters at the June 27 grand opening ceremony that included more than 130 international dignitaries, and state and local officials.

The company broke ground in March 2012 and began initial construction in October 2012, completing the facility last month.

"Not only does this investment reflect the rapid growth of our business and validate the value of biorational technology in the marketplace," he said, "it puts us in the position to meet the rising demand for our products as we continue to develop new and innovative solutions for our customers around the world."

Located on a 73-acre site in Mitchell County in upper northeast Iowa, which touches the Minnesota border, the new 130,000-square-foot plant will serve as the manufacturing and quality control center for VBC’s broad portfolio of fermentation products – derived from biological origins and providing economic, health and environmental benefits for agriculture, public health and forestry markets in 95 countries.

With the company’s laboratories going online in January, VBC currently manufactures microbial insecticides, nematicides and plant growth regulators used in production agriculture for managing plant growth, quality and stress in crops. Key functions of the plant include fermentation, downstream processing, centrifugation, evaporation, extraction, crystallization and drying, Melnik added.

According to VBC officials, biorationals help growers deliver desirable crop attributes downstream.

That can directly impact their return on investment and offer growers a variety of quality-related benefits, which include protecting crops from injury, promoting physiological characteristics that enhance marketability, managing resistance to other important crop protection tools, and managing pesticide residue levels.

Company officials said on their website mission statement that "VBC biorationals improve crop quality and are safe to humans and other non-target organisms. For these reasons, biorationals are unique and present suppliers of quality food and fiber with an added degree of flexibility.

"Biorationals are used in organic as well as conventional production systems and can contribute greatly to the marketability of a crop by creating value that extends all the way to the end user," the website statement read.

The opening of the new plant follows VBC’s acquisition of Pace International LLC in early 2013 and its announcement of a long-term strategic alliance with Biomar Microbial Technologies in February of this year.

The Pace acquisition made SCC the first multinational supplier to offer both conventional and biorational product solutions for seed, pre-harvest crop production, and pre-harvest and post-harvest crop protection applications, according to company officials.

In addition, the Biomar alliance will create a new pipeline of industry-leading, science-based products with additional work being conducted at VBC’s research facility at Long Grove, Ill.

Located in Wapato, Wash., Pace International LLC collaborates with growers, packers and agricultural organizations to develop innovative solutions to enhance, protect and preserve fruit and vegetable quality, provide post-harvest technologies, equipment and technical services to help maximize efficiencies in packing operations and increase the value of crops being processed.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Sumitomo Chemical Co. is one of Japan’s leading chemical companies, offering a diverse range of products globally in the fields of basic chemicals, petrochemicals, IT-related chemicals and materials, health and crop science products and pharmaceuticals.

The new plant has brought about 400 temporary and 89 permanent jobs to Osage, company officials said.