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Crop Roundup: EPA Proposes New Requirements for Bt Corn

EPA proposes new requirements for Bt corn
New framework could change the way farmers use Bt corn. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on proposed framework intended to delay the corn rootworm pest from becoming resistant to corn genetically engineered to produce Bt pesticides. The EPA is concerned with corn rootworm's development of resistance to Bt corn.

The proposed framework includes three requirements on the manufacturers of Bt corn including:

  • In areas at risk of corn rootworm resistance, require crop rotation; use of corn varieties containing more than one Bt toxin; or other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies and stewardship for corn rootworm.
  • Develop and implement a strategy to better detect and address areas of resistance as they emerge.
  • Use different and improved scientific tests and sampling requirements to study the problem and more reliably ensure that resistance to the Bt corn toxin is identified.

The goal of the proposed framework is to slow the development of resistance in order to prolong the durability and effectiveness of these plants to control the corn rootworm pest, according to an EPA report.

Use of plant-incorporated protectant (PIP) crops is one of the safest methods of insect control. If used properly, they greatly reduce the need for conventional pesticides and the risks they may present to human health and the environment. They must be managed properly to prevent insects from developing resistance to the natural proteins being expressed, according to the EPA report.

Recent reports have documented corn rootworm resistance to two Bt traits, Cry3Bb1 and mCry3A, in the U.S. Corn Belt. To obtain expert guidance on the best way to address these concerns, the Agency convened a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) meeting in December 2013. The panel evaluated EPA’s current resistance monitoring strategy for the corn rootworm and made recommendations for improvement. These proposed enhancements are consistent with the Science Advisory Panel’s (SAP) guidance.

The EPA is seeking input from all stakeholders, including corn growers, non-governmental organizations, industry, academia, and the general public, on this proposal. Stakeholders are encouraged to offer input on specific SAP recommendations, including alternative approaches or counter proposals to address corn rootworm resistance management issues raised by the panel.

EPA’s proposed framework is available under docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0805 at regulations.gov. Comments and suggestions for alternative approaches are due by March 16, 2015.

Dow AgroSciences announces new quality standards for trait stacking
Today Dow AgroSciences announced quality standards for glyphosate trait stacking with Enlist. The company said it will allow Enlist to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only. The first generation Roundup Ready trait will not be allowed to be stacked with Enlist.

“We are committed to optimizing the Enlist system for growers,” says Damon Palmer, Marketing Director, U.S. Seeds, Dow AgroSciences. “We’ve done it with Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology—a proven, superior herbicide tailored for the grower. Today’s announcement helps ensure the Enlist family of soybean traits will be stacked exclusively with other industry leading traits.”

The market continues to move to advanced glyphosate traits since they were introduced because they have been proven to outperform the original Roundup Ready trait. Technology with newer glyphosate traits, including Roundup Ready 2 Yield and Enlist E3 soybeans, show no yield drag or lag, according to a company report.

“Enlist soybeans with Roundup Ready 2 Yield and Enlist E3 soybeans—which feature an advanced glyphosate technology owned by MS Technologies—are our chosen trait platforms moving forward,” says Palmer. “Without question, these are the best trait packages coming to market. Growers should know they can farm with confidence with the Enlist system.”    

NRCS sign-up: 2015 conservation stewardship program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that funds will be available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Although NRCS accepts applications all year, agricultural producers and forest landowners should submit applications by February 27, 2015 to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding. Applications received after that date will be considered for future funding.

“CSP offers an incentive for agricultural producers and private forest landowners who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” said Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist of USDA’s NRCS. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, producers can achieve a sustainable landscape and maintain or increase the productivity of their operation.”

Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve resource conditions on their land, including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation.

The 2014 Farm Bill brought changes to CSP, including an expanded conservation activity list that offers participants more choice and more options to meet their conservation needs and address natural resource issues on their land. These conservation activities, called enhancements, include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing and prairie restoration, among others.

Interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land. The inventory helps determine their conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. Each applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments. Producers can use the CSP self-screening checklist to learn if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements, and different payment types.

For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.

Acquisition of seed business expands Dow AgroSciences capabilities in Brazil
Dow AgroSciences has completed the acquisition of Coodetec’s seed business. The acquisition  expands the company’s corn and soybean genetics, and strengthens the company’s breeding and production capabilities in the Americas, according to a company report.

Dow AgroSciences continues to be one of the largest and fastest growing soybean seed companies in the world. The acquisition further enables growth for Dow AgroSciences in Brazil with strategic corn and soybean traits technology, including Powercore and new technologies under development such as Conkesta, and the Enlist Weed Control System.

“With this transaction, Dow AgroSciences accelerates its entry into the soybean market in Brazil, a strategic focus of the Company's growth," said Rolando Meninato, Vice President, Seeds Business, Dow AgroSciences. "The objective is to increase market share in soybean seeds in the short term. Furthermore, it strengthens the company's position in the corn market and marks the entry into wheat seeds in the country.”

The Coodetec acquisition will enhance the company’s genetics portfolio, operations breeding, and ramp-up of new technologies.

“This acquisition will benefit U.S. farmers by enabling Dow AgroSciences’ seed brands to offer growers even more high performing corn and soybean germplasm with the characteristics growers are looking for,” said Brian Barker, General Manager, U.S. Seeds, Dow AgroSciences.

Sources: Environment Protection Agency, Dow AgroSciences, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service

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