BASF Report 2023

Material Topics in Focus: Product Stewardship for Crop Protection Products and Seeds

Drones can be used to increase safety and productivity in agriculture. The main advantages compared with conventional backpack spraying are optimized use of crop protection products, reduced risk of product contact during spraying and high efficiency in application and collection of information. BASF supports the training of drone pilots with various programs.

Around the world, farmers are facing enormous challenges: Under changing climatic conditions, they are expected to feed a growing world population and, at the same time, reduce their carbon footprint. Our products and technologies help them master this complex task. We are committed to the responsible and ethical use of our products throughout their entire life cycle.


As global demand for agricultural products and solutions grows, so does the pressure on farmers. They are expected to produce healthy and affordable food and, at the same time, reduce CO2 emissions, minimize land use and preserve biodiversity. With our integrated solutions, we help farmers find a balance between economic, environmental and societal demands. High-performance seeds from BASF help to achieve a higher yield and improve the quality of the harvest. Our innovative crop protection products reduce crop losses caused by insect pests, weeds and fungal diseases. Our digital solutions enable, among other things, better soil management and more targeted use of fertilizers and crop protection products by taking important parameters such as plant health, weed density or weather data directly into account during application.

In 2023, we invested €900 million in research and development in the Agricultural Solutions segment, which represents 9% of segment sales. Our innovation pipeline has a peak sales potential of more than €7.5 billion for products launched by 2033. The main focus here is sustainability, with four key areas: more climate-smart farming, more sustainable solutions, digital farming and smart stewardship.

As part of our smart stewardship activities, we focus on digital and technological solutions in particular.

Dr. Volker Laabs
Global Product Stewardship Crop Protection


Misuse of our crop protection and seed products can have a negative impact on human health and the environment. We are therefore focusing our smart stewardship activities on education and continuously improving our solutions for farmers. Alongside aspects such as efficacy and productivity, this also includes safe use by our customers and impact on the environment. We consider the entire life cycle of our products – from research and development to their proper use and disposal.

Crop protection products and seeds are highly regulated at national and international level, which brings with it strict requirements for registering and re-registering active ingredients and crop systems. Regulatory approval is only granted after comprehensive proof has been provided showing that our products are safe for humans, animals and the environment when used in the manner intended.

As a member of the CropLife International industry association, we are committed to complying with the standards on the research, registration and distribution of crop protection products set out in the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). We are also committed to the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) – an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable approach to crop protection in which chemical measures are only considered if they are necessary and no other effective options are available. In our use of biotechnology, we are guided by the respective code of conduct set out by CropLife International and adhere to the relevant standards and legal regulations governing production and marketing.

Potential risks of our products are assessed and minimized throughout the research, development and registration process, and on an ongoing basis following market registration. We regularly conduct scientific studies and tests, including on modes of action, (eco)toxicological properties and possible residues. This ensures that, as far as possible, our registration dossiers address all questions on potential environmental and health effects.

We adapt our portfolio to the specific requirements of regional markets as customer requirements, crops, soils, climate conditions, plant diseases and farming practices vary around the world. Consequently, product registrations differ from country to country. Distribution generally requires registration and approval of our products in accordance with the respective national regulations.

Crop protection

BASF adheres to the International Code of Conduct issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the management of crop protection products. These are only marketed once they have been approved by the competent authorities. We no longer sell WHO Class 1A or 1B products (high acute oral and dermal toxicity), even if formal approvals exist. Depending on availability, we offer our customers alternatives.

We are committed to only considering chemical measures for crop protection if they are necessary and no other effective options are available.

Dr. Volker Laabs

All of BASF’s crop protection products can be used safely under local farming conditions if the information and directions on the label are followed. If they have any questions, complaints or issues, our customers can contact us through various channels, for example, by calling the telephone number printed on all product labels, using the contact forms on our websites or by approaching our sales employees directly.

We record all product incidents relating to health or the environment that come to our attention in a global database. If necessary, we take appropriate measures on the basis of this information to minimize preventable incidents.

These include updating the instructions for use on product labels. We communicate these changes and general recommendations on the safe use of our products through channels such as our global training and education activities.

One of the ways we meet our commitment to product stewardship is by offering a wide range of courses and training on the safe storage, handling, use and disposal of our products. This ranges from on-site events to handouts and digital offerings and is aimed at farmers, retailers, advisors and other users. In India, for example, BASF launched the Suraksha Hamesha program. Suraksha Hamesha means “safety all the time.” The program creates a platform for educating farmers and other users of crop protection products about the nine steps of responsible use of crop protection products and personal protection. Through Suraksha Hamesha, BASF has trained over 36,000 agricultural workers in India in 2023. BASF also involves government agencies and the central government’s farm extension teams to support and promote farm safety. In addition, we reached over 10 million people through digital information and training and informed them on safety in agriculture.

As part of our smart stewardship activities, we particularly make use of the possibilities offered by digital and technological solutions to enable our customers to handle our products responsibly. In Thailand, for example, 143 drone pilots were trained in the safe use of crop protection products as part of the “We make it fly” program since 2021. Approximately 20,000 switched from backpack spraying to the safe drone application in 2023.

We also work closely together with associations such as CropLife International and CropLife Europe to promote the safe and proper use of crop protection products. For example, we support stewardship initiatives of both associations and various programs on the proper disposal and recycling of product containers. Technological innovations developed together with industry partners also help to make using crop protection products easier and safer. Examples include the closed transfer systems easyconnect in Europe and the Wisdom system in South America.


Our biotechnology activities and our research and development capabilities comprise advanced breeding techniques, analytics, technology platforms and trait validation. To offer tailor-made, more sustainable crop solutions, our gene identification work focuses on those plant characteristics that enable higher yield and better quality, disease resistance and tolerance of environmental factors such as drought. We apply state-of-the-art scientific methods such as genetic engineering and selective genome editing. Genome editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas and other pioneering tools in modern biosciences offer numerous opportunities for innovative solutions, for example, in the fields of health, agriculture and industrial applications.

With these tools and our expertise in plant breeding, we can quickly and specifically modify desired plant characteristics and introduce new varieties. We want to use this technology to gain new knowledge and thus improve agricultural applications, and therefore support transparency through dialog and information sharing.

BASF is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS), a global industry initiative for seed companies. This initiative promotes the adoption of Quality Management Systems for seeds and product stewardship programs covering the entire life cycle. It also has independent auditors verify compliance with its guidelines in a multiyear audit cycle. BASF completed all required audits for the three-year cycle prior to 2023. BASF will conduct the next third-party ETS audits in 2024 as part of the next cycle.

Genome editing
Genome editing refers to a series of new molecular biological methods to make specific changes in the genome. Naturally occurring processes are used to make small changes to an organism’s genes to modify a specific characteristic. Such techniques have great potential for innovative solutions in healthcare, agriculture and industrial applications, for example.
Peak sales potential
The peak sales potential of the Agricultural Solutions pipeline describes the total peak sales forecast for individual products in the research and development pipeline. Peak sales are the highest sales value to be expected from one year. The pipeline comprises innovative products that have been on the market since 2023 or will be launched on the market by 2033.
Traits are commercial plant characteristics, such as an inherent resistance to certain herbicides or an inherent defense against certain insects.

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