How many traits can you get into a kernel of corn? The answer isn't known, but as early as 2010 farmers could be planting seed with as many as eight specialty genes to protect crop yield. SmartStax is the industry's first eight-gene stack for corn and will feature multiple modes of action to control both above- and below-ground insects. And the crop will feature herbicide tolerance too.
The new technology took a big step for moving to market this week with the announcement that the regulatory package for SmartStax has been delivered to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The product remains on track for a 2010 launch pending all regulatory approvals. That includes the regulatory agencies of export countries.
Monsanto and Dow have also submitted a request to EPA to reduce refuge requirements for SmartStax to 5% in the northern Corn Belt and 20% in Southern states where cotton is planted. That's a significant drop from 20% up north and 50% in Bt cotton country. The argument is that multiple modes of action at work reduce the risk of resistance development.
In a press statement, Carl Casale, executive vice president, Monsanto, adds that the SmartStax package offers "significant upside potential through refuge reduction. All totaled, we estimate the...hybrid system could provide an estimated yield benefit of an additional 4 to 10% on the farm."
Adds Antonio Galindez from Dow: "Ensuring technology like in-plant insect protection remains effective for the long-term is critical to providing a dependable grain corn supply to a global market that continues to see increasing demands." Galindez is vice president, Crops Global Business Unit.
The SmartStax package includes the following technologies:
- Above-ground insect control - includes Herculex I from Dow, and Monsanto's YieldGard VT PRO for control of European corn borer, corn earworm, fall armyworm, western bean cutworm and black cutworm.
- Below-ground insect control - including Herculex RW with YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 technology for protection agains Western, Northern and Mexican corn rootworms.
- Weed control - including Roundup Ready 2 technology along with Liberty Link herbicide tolerance, offering growers added flexibility.
Dow AgroSciences plans to market the new product through it's Mycogen and Triumph Seed lines. Monsanto will sell through DeKalb, regional brands, companies in the American Seeds Inc., family and in germplasm marketed by Corn States seed company.
Monsanto adds in its announcement that the platform will also serve as the entry point for future advanced technologies in corn, including water stress tolerance and nitrogen efficiency.