Monsanto is getting into the biologicals business.

The St. Louis-based company 2012 began its research and development efforts to include agricultural biopesticides, according to a news release.

The work, under the firm's BioDirect technology platform, will focus on four areas: weed management, insect management, virus control and honeybee health.

Although efforts are still in the early discovery stage, the firm hopes to use its genomics expertise to find naturally occurring molecules that will target crop pests, according to the release.

Palmer amaranth, for example, has grown resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup.

Early testing shows that a biological created using the technology can be combined with glyphosate to control glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.

Early testing also has shown that BioDirect Technology may offer new modes of action to control insecticide-resistant pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle.