Monsanto Officially Rolls Out Refuge in a Bag

Some 20 hybrids are available to plant now.

Published on: May 5, 2011

For Dan Walsh of Kewanee, Ind., it's about convenience. Now he only has to dump one bag of type of seed into the planter in each field and not worry about refuge corn. The refuge is built in the bag at a ration of 95% GMO corn to 5% refuge corn. He has more acres protected by GMO traits than in the past, particularly when he had extra refuge corn left and planted it, making the final refuge something above 20% with regular GMOs, or 5% with Smartstax hybrids.

Gary Garzolini and his brother farm on both sides of the Indiana and Illinois line. He calls West Terre Haute, Ind., home. He's excited about the chance to plant the new refuge in a bag hybrid so that he no longer has to worry about getting the right amount of bags of a different hybrid to the field. Also, he's had trouble with corn rootworms in his area, and he will sleep better at night knowing 95% of his corn plants are protected rather than just 80%.

These are just two of dozens of farmers who want to be amongst the first to plant new Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn once the weather finally settles down and the soils dry out. They appeared at a press conference in Indianapolis Wednesday with Robb Fraley, a vice-president for Monsanto, and Matt Kirkpatrick, Corn Product Traits Manager for the company. It was part of a three-day swing through the Corn Belt to officially kick-off Monsanto's newest product.

The event is possible because EPA granted final approval for RIB Complete a few weeks ago. With the delay in planting, Monsanto has been able to distribute a reasonable quantity of the product to farmers who wanted to purchase and plant it in 2011. Walsh, for example, expects to plant about 30 bags this season.

"If it's economical and more available next season, I'll consider planting more," he says. Kirkpatrick assures that availability won't be a problem next season. In fact, he expects it to be available in 100 hybrids for 2012. The 2012 season will be the official launch year for this new technology.

Each participant at the press conference received a bag of M & M candy, green and purple, but only 5% purple. "It's the same kind of technology candy makers use with these types of products, only on a bigger scale," Fraley says. "The 5% will be mixed throughout the bag. You won't find it settled out at one end of the bag or the other."

Monsnato and Dow AgroSciences are the first seed companies to receive approval for a refuge-in-the-bag product for both corn borer and rootworm with 5% refuge. Both Kirkpatrick and Fraley credited Dow AgroSciences for their collaboration on the project. "It's the three caterpillar modes of action and two rootworm modes of action that have made it possible for us to achieve this registration," Fraley says.