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Monsanto Delays Launch of Nematode Seed Treatment

User skin irritation is cited as the reason.

Monsanto is delaying its new nematode management product launch for 2018. It cited concerns over user skin irritation of NemaStrike as the reason.

“We did not make this decision lightly, but you, our growers, as well as our employees and partners, are the heart of our company,” stated Brian Naber, U.S. commercial operations lead, in a company statement. “We want to ensure that all have the best possible experience with any of our products.”

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the NemaStrike technology. It aims at pests like soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in soybeans and nematodes in corn and cotton. “Growers significantly underestimate nematode presence,” said Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, at a farmer meeting in late August.  “Often, symptoms get ignored.”

There’s good reason for that. Nematode damage is easily confused with other maladies. Soybean symptoms that include stunted and chlorotic leaves can often be confused with compaction. Compaction can also be a suspect in stunted and chlorotic corn, in addition to maladies like herbicide injury. Fraley noted that damaged roots can provide entry points for fungal diseases, too.

That’s where Monsanto officials say the NemaStrike technology comes in. 

Monsanto officials say three years of U.S. field trials show yield protection performance advantage over the competitive standard by:

  • 7 bushels per acre in corn
  • 3 bushels per acre in soybeans
  • 80 pounds lint per acre in cotton 

Nematode damage isn’t limited to nematodes. Fraley added that the protection NemaStrike gives roots helps crops better endure drought conditions. 

Monsanto officials say its 2017 Ground Breakers program encompassed over 400 growers who were able to safely use the technology. 

Monsanto officials state EPA findings prior to approval of Acceleron NemaStrike ST technology showed the technology is effective and can be used safely when following label instructions.

However, Monsanto officials say limited cases of skin irritation surfaced as Monsanto prepared the technology for commercial launch in 2018. 

“We are evaluating these cases, and in those we’ve examined so far, the proper use of required personal protective equipment (PPE) appears to be an important factor,” stated Naber in a company news release. “As a company, safety and stewardship are our top priorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we are pausing the 2018 commercialization of NemaStrike Technology while we evaluate the circumstances associated with these cases. We anticipate that we will continue the Ground Breakers program this spring. We will provide additional information to you, including which alternative Acceleron Seed Applied Solutions products will be available in commercial products for the 2018 season. Look for more from us in the coming weeks.”

 

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