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Decade of the Bean
If the last 100 years have been the “Century of Corn”, Roy
Fuchs thinks the next 10 years will be the “Decade of the Bean.”
“When we look back at this time in 2022, we will have seen
this has been a transformational decade for soybeans, says Fuchs, Monsanto
global oilseeds technology lead.
Compared to corn,
soybeans have been on the short-end of the stick when it comes to traits
derived from biotechnology. That will change. In the next decade, Fuchs
predicts soybeans will likely have 10 to 12 biotechnology-derived traits, with
a similar number of traits coming from advanced breeding.
Gains made by
breeding, agricultural practice improvements, and biotechnology could boost
soybean yield potential to 80 bushels per acre by 2030, predicts Fuchs. In
2011, the average U.S. soybean yield tallied 41.5 bushels per acre.
“From a soybean perspective, we have not leveraged
components like corn in terms of fungicides, insecticides, and other
components,” says Fuchs. “We want to bring the whole systems approach together
Here’s some of what you can expect to see from Monsanto in
the next few years:
Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans.
They feature double stacked Genuity Roundup Ready 2
Yield soybeans with a dicamba-tolerant trait. This product will contain two
modes of action—glyphosate and dicamba—to provide weed control. Fuchs says this
system will feature a new low-volatility formulation of dicamba to reduce
likelihood of off-site movement. A program called Ground Breakers
is planned for 2013, pending regulatory
approval. This will provide growers an opportunity to gain on-farm experience
with the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, says Fuchs. A full-scale launch is
planned in 2014, pending regulatory approval.
“We are working on improving intrinsic yield in
collaboration with BASF,” says Fuchs. “We are identifying different yield genes
for insertion into soybeans on top of the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend product base.”
Higher yielding and second-generation higher yielding soybeans will be hitting
the market later this decade, pending regulatory approval.
cyst nematode (SCN) resistant soybeans
. “Soybean cyst nematode has by
far the most economic impact in terms of soybean yield loss in the United
States,” says Fuchs. Monsanto and BASF are collaboratively developing a
transgenic solution to control SCN.
Longer term, Monsanto is working on a nematicide seed
treatment targeted at SCN. It’s part of an acquisition Monsanto made in 2011 of
Divergence, a St. Louis-based company.
This builds upon current
Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield aphid-resistant varieties that have a
single resistance source (Rag1 gene). Varieties containing the Rag1 gene resist
soybean aphids. However, aphids can quickly overcome single gene resistance.
The second-generation products will stack more resistant genes to create more
stable resistance, say Monsanto officials. Expect to see a commercial launch
around mid-decade, pending regulatory approval.
Multi-gene Phytophthora root rot (PRR) resistance.
Most current soybean varieties contain a single resistant gene to
PRR. Monsanto is breeding multi-gene combinations that resist 80% of the
estimated 55 PPR races. Expect this commercial launch later this decade,
pending regulatory approval.
These soybeans aim at the premium oil market that
conventional soybeans ceded to more heart-healthy oils like that from canola.
“We needed a stable oil with no
transfats,” says Fuchs. After meeting with food manufacturers, Monsanto
designed its Vistive Gold Soybeans. Oil from these soybeans has 60% less
saturated fat and three times more monsaturated fat (healthy fat) than
commodity soybeans. Monsanto officials add this oil is also highly stable,
which expands applications for frying, sprays for crackers and snacks, baking
and shortening blends, and oil blends used in food processing.
Monsanto is targeting farmers in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
to grow Vistive Gold Soybeans. That’s the geography that has the best
environment for growing Vistive Gold soybeans, says Fuchs. There is potential
Monsanto may expand the range, but for now, these states are where Monsanto is
concentrating its efforts.
SDA Omega-3 Soybeans.
These soybeans feature the heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty
acid that’s currently contained in fish oil.
“Unfortunately, fish oil can’t be
put in foods, due to its flavor and non-stability,” says Fuchs.
SDA soybean oil will enable
consumers to consume a plant-based source of heart-health Omega 3 oil in their
diets. Monsanto is examining growing it in more northern states, as SDA soybeans
grown in these areas have higher levels of the heart-healthy oil.
“These traits do have some environmental interaction,” says