Monsanto Updates Status of Several Projects

Unique products moving through both trait and breeding pipelines.

Published on: Jan 6, 2011

The farmer of 2020 may have technologies at his fingertips that are still pipedreams today, literally. Some of the technology he will access is already in the pipeline at some stage of development. You should get access to some of these technologies well before 2020.

That was the message form Stephen Padgette and Bob Reiter of Monsanto. Padgette is vice president of biotechnology. Reiter is vice president of breeding technology.

Monsanto's pipeline system consists of four phases, from an initial search fro genes and preliminary work in phase 1 to seeking final regulatory approvals and moving toward commercialization in stage 4. The pair outlined the status of projects which recently entered a different phase of development, plus added an analysis of advances in the breeding program. BASF is collaborating with Monsanto on these first three crop-stress related projects.

  • Corn nitrogen utilization- "We're excited this effort has moved from phase 1 to phase 2," Padgette says. "There is years of testing ahead, but it's moving forward. It will mean wither more yield from the same N rates or the ability to apply less N and get the same yield. That will become clear through more testing."
  • Second generation of high-yield soybeans- This project also moves to phase 2. "We're seeing significant yield advantages, and we believe the yield boost will be additive to the first generation trait in the field now," Padgette notes.
  • Wheat advancements- Working closely with BASF, this project is working on two fronts- both increasing drought tolerance in wheat and adding herbicide tolerance. The project is in phase 1.
  • Dicamba soybeans- "This one is moving to phase 4, and that's a big step forward," Padgette says. "We have our regulatory trials completed and submitted. Coupled with Roundup Ready technology, this should be big for weed control. Dicamba is very good on broadleaf weeds."
  • Second –generation of insect protection in soybeans- Multiple genes are involved , Padgette says. The goal for commercial release of insect protection on soybeans is 2013. By then, he's hoping for multiple genes with multiple modes of action in products that are released.

New to the breeding pipeline

  • Gray leaf spot- Traditional breeding programs have uncovered unique gray leaf spot resistance. This discovery is in phase 2, Reiter says. In the meantime, breeders continue to focus on gray leaf spot resistance for hybrids which will be grown over the next few seasons.
  • Aphid resistance- Monsanto breeders are already at work on the second generation of aphid-resistance for soybeans.
  • Cotton project- "We're excited to me making progress against the root know nematode," Reiter says. "We think we could eventually increase lint yield 8 to 10%."
  • Better broccoli- Vegetable breeders are at work on improving the nutritional value of broccoli. This could be a breakthrough in this field, Reiter says.

"We have no plans of slowing down anytime soon," Reiter says. "We hope to discover and deliver more products."