By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
ISCA Global, Inc. was formed through the merger of ISCA Technologies, Inc. (US), ISCA Tecnologias, Ltda. (Brazil) and ATGC Biotech (India), to capitalize on 25 years of research and development in environmentally-safe insect control products, which will play a critical role in making global agriculture sustainable.
ISCA Global’s products work by using pheromones and other naturally-occurring compounds called semiochemicals, which manipulate the behavior of targeted insect species before they become pests. These products prevent problem insects from mating, repel them from crops, or attract them to minuscule amounts of killing agents while leaving honeybees and other wildlife unharmed. ISCA Global is also developing products to control mosquitoes and ticks that spread diseases.
“This new extraordinary partnership enables us to offer next generation insect control products to global markets,” said Dr. Agenor Mafra-Neto, CEO of ISCA Global, who is an acclaimed entomologist and chemical ecologist. “Consumers want cleaner food and governments around the world are discouraging the use of conventional pesticides. Our products meet this need. They control devastating pests but avoid pest resistance and have minimal impact on the environment, by minimizing the contamination of soil and water,” he added.
Based in Riverside, California, ISCA Technologies has 20 years of experience in developing, testing and marketing formulations and application methods, enabling farmers of row crops, such as corn, soy and cotton, and specialty crops, such as fruits, to reduce or eliminate their need for repeated insecticide applications. Innovative formulations and application methods resulted in products suitable for rainy and desert climates. From hand application in some of the smallest farms in the world in India to aircraft application in some of the largest farms in the world in Brazil, ISCA’s products protect crops in 30 countries in all terrains and climates. The versatility of its formulations and its efforts to reduce manufacturing costs have made the company’s next generation insect control products ready for mass application.
Over the last 10 years, ATGC has capitalized on the brainpower of leading Indian scientists who have decades of experience in agricultural and pharmaceutical chemistry. The company led the upscaling of complex pheromone production lines and other semiochemical syntheses, through its breakthrough innovations in chemistry and by forging key manufacturing partnerships, driving the cost of pheromone-based pest control solutions down even further and making them cost-competitive against conventional pesticides. These green solutions, which were previously cost-prohibitive, are now accessible to all farmers. A state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and center of excellence were also recently launched in Hyderabad.
“Our synthetic processes and economies of scale will not only drastically reduce pheromone costs to the levels required for managing pests of corn, soybean, cotton and many other crops, but they will also give ISCA Global and its partners the reliable and dedicated semiochemical supply chain needed to meet growing demands,” said Dr. Markandeya Gorantla, Chief Technical Officer of ISCA Global Inc.
ISCA Brazil is a hub of critical manufacturing, field testing and market development. Through its partnership with a major agricultural supply player, ISCA Brazil launched its first product developed for row crops, which will be distributed to large Brazilian farms. This partnership also led to the meeting between Dr. Mafra-Neto and Jean-Pierre Princen, who joined the ISCA team over three years ago. In addition to providing critical support for global sales, Princen is the chairman of the ISCA Global Board and plays a key advisory role. He also brings over three decades of experience in working for major agriculture technology companies as global CEO and strategist, and has a deep understanding of current crop protection practices and technologies. He brings invaluable global business experience and expertise to the company.
“Its portfolio of field-proven semiochemical-based solutions combined with its cost-competitive qualities have placed ISCA at the forefront of next generation insect control products globally,” Princen said. “I believe that semiochemical-based solutions, which are proven to be effective for decades on high-value specialty crops, will now be affordable as part of any integrated insect management program (IPM) for all types of crops and agricultural practices, both conventional and organic,” he added.
ISCA Global is also working in partnership with NATCO Pharma, based in India, to manufacture niche chemicals. This strategic partnership will enable ISCA Global to capitalize on the capabilities of the three consolidated entities in every stage of the value chain. Through its expertise in complex chemistries and proven track record in offering products globally at affordable prices in the pharmacy sector, NATCO recently entered the crop health sciences sector to leverage its existing technical, manufacturing and marketing expertise. NATCO’s strategic partnership with ISCA Global facilitates capital improvements, among other needs, and creates synergies across the value chain, guaranteeing dedicated supply chains at the lowest costs.
“NATCO has always had a mission to provide affordable medicines to a wide range of people. I am excited to partner with ISCA Global in its endeavor to bring a similar philosophy of affordable, efficient and sustainable semiochemical solutions to producers everywhere” said Rajeev Nannapaneni, Vice-Chairman & CEO of NATCO Pharma Limited.
ISCA Global’s leaders are Leandro Mafra, Dr. Kim Li Spencer, Agenor Mafra-Neto (PhD), Jean-Pierre Princen and Markandeya Gorantla (PhD). Photo by Kurt Miller Photography.
Agenor Mafra-Neto (PhD) will serve as Chief Executive Officer. He previously worked at the University of California, Riverside as a researcher in chemical ecology and entomology. Dr. Mafra-Neto founded ISCA Technologies Inc. in 1996, and has since been the principal investigator in over 70 grant projects funded by US federal agencies and other groups. A tireless entrepreneur, Mafra-Neto has continuously traveled the world to establish markets for his innovations.
Jean-Pierre Princen will serve as Chairman of the Board and lead the company’s business development efforts. Princen brings decades of executive experience gained at the world’s largest agricultural technology corporations before devoting his career to upscaling sustainable biotechnologies for agriculture. Princen is an experienced global CEO and strategist, with expertise in the US and European markets.
Markandeya Gorantla (PhD) will serve as Chief Technical Officer. Dr. Gorantla is the Chairman and Managing Director of ATGC, a pheromone and semiochemical manufacturing company that was launched as ATGC Biotech Pvt. Ltd. in the Genome Valley Hyderabad. ATGC will supply pheromones and other active ingredients for ISCA’s formulations and market ISCA’s products in Central Asia. Gorantla also has years of research experience in plant molecular biology, drug discovery and chemical engineering.
Leandro Mafra is ISCA Globals’s fourth founder. For 20 years, he managed ISCA Tecnologias based in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, which manufactures and markets semiochemical pest control products in Latin America. Mafra brings, to ISCA Global, his experience in manufacturing and distributing the world’s first semiochemical products that protect row crops (corn, soybean, and cotton) from fall armyworm, corn earworm and several other damaging moth species. Mafra also developed a strategic relationship with the largest soybean farm in the world in Mato Gross, Brazil.
Kim Li Spencer (M.D.) is the company’s fifth founder. Trained as a physician, Dr. Spencer served as Vice President of ISCA Technologies and guided the company through a decade of rapid growth, overseeing staff recruitment, personnel, workflow processes and regulatory affairs. At ISCA Global, Dr. Spencer will continue to foster a talented and dedicated workforce that celebrates diversity, teamwork and innovation.
ISCA Global Strategic Partners:
NATCO Pharma Ltd is based in Hyderabad, India, and has eight pharmaceutical development manufacturing facilities across the country and two manufacturing facilities under development by its Crop Health Sciences Division, which employ over 5,000 people. NATCO is recognized for its ability to manufacture niche pharmaceutical products, with an emphasis on quality and accessibility to the general public. NATCO consistently ranks among the fastest growing and most respected pharmaceutical companies in India.
ISCA Global offers environmentally-friendly solutions to many of the world’s most damaging insect pests, including fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana), tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta), corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea), cotton boll moth (Helicoverpa armigera), mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar), pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), Carob moth (Ectomyelois ceratoniae), Tephritidae fruit flies and many others.