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Refuge-reducing corn trait stack almost ready for marketplace

Agriculture.com Staff 07/14/2010 @ 11:00pm

U.S. and Canadian farmers are one step closer to having a new corn trait stack that company officials say will provide solid insect and weed control but reduce refuge requirements, according to a report from Monsanto.

These benefits will be realized through SmartStax, which is the outcome of a cross licensing agreement and research and development collaboration signed in 2007 between Monsanto Company and Dow AgroSciences LLC.

SmartStax, an all-in-one corn trait platform, received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and regulatory authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and remains on track for a 2010 commercial launch. Using multiple modes of action for insect control is the means to reduce structured refuge and maintain long-term durability of corn trait technologies. SmartStax features a combination of insect control traits that significantly reduces the risk of resistance for both above- and below-ground pests. As a result, the decisions by the EPA and CFIA will allow reduction of the typical structured farm refuge from 20% to 5% for SmartStax in the U.S. Corn Belt and Canada and from 50% to 20% of the U.S. Cotton Belt.

Company officials say the new corn seed technology is expected to be offered to farmers on 3 to 4 million acres in its first year of availability. The product's launch would represent the largest introduction of a corn biotech seed product in the history of agriculture.

"Farmers are the real winners with SmartStax," says Robb Fraley, Monsanto Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President. "The 5% refuge for SmartStax will give farmers a tremendous advantage to increase whole farm corn yield 5% to 10%. This is a key early step in our commitment to helping farmers sustainably double yields by 2030 to meet the increasing demands for grain for food, feed and fuel. This reduced refuge will be easier for farmers and will further reduce insecticide use while reducing grower risks and enhancing the long-term durability of the technology."

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