Japanese company Idemitsu Kosan (Tokyo) plans to launch the biofungicide rice seed treatment, Tough Block (Talaromyces flavus), in January 2008. The product protects rice seedlings against rice blast (Magnaporthe grisea), Bakanae disease (Fusarium moniliforme) and bacterial diseases, the company says. It is aiming for peak sales of treatments to cover 500,000 ha of rice. The new product extends Idemitsu's T flavus-based range, following the launch earlier this year of Tough Pearl for use on strawberries against powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca macularis). Idemitsu expanded its biopesticide operations at the start of this year with the acquisition of Nitto Denko's (Ibaraki) pesticide business.