Monsanto submits SmartStax for approval by EPA
Monsanto Company announced that the company has submitted documents and extensive research data for SmartStax, a new insect-protection and weed control platform in corn, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval.
With the submission, SmartStax becomes the first-ever stacked product with multiple effective genes against both lepidopteran and corn rootworm pests to reach this important regulatory milestone.
The product remains on track for commercial launch in 2010 pending appropriate regulatory approvals. SmartStax features multiple traits designed to control corn insect pests both above and below ground while offering farmers two choices of herbicide tolerance in one seed.
Specifically, the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) proteins at work in SmartStax deliver multiple modes of actions to control both above and below ground pests; enabling an opportunity to lower corn refuge acres.
The SmartStax platform is anticipated to be the first set of technologies to enable such a reduction in corn refuge for both above and below ground pests.
This game-changing platform is expected to have a market opportunity that could top more than 105 million acres globally, with 60-to-65 million acres in the United States alone.
Monsanto has submitted a request to the EPA to reduce refuge requirements for SmartStax to 5 percent in the northern Corn Belt and 20 percent in southern states where cotton is planted.
"The technologies at work in SmartStax will provide increased value on the farm through more thorough control of insects and weeds and from the significant upside potential through refuge reduction," said Carl Casale, executive vice president, strategy and operations, Monsanto Company.
"All totaled, we estimate the SmartStax hybrid system could provide an estimated yield benefit of an additional 4 to 10 percent on the farm."
Currently corn growers are required to plant "structured refuges" or plots of corn that do not use in-plant protection technology near corn acres that do.
The percentage of refuge acres varies based on the specific geography, but in general has been set at 50 percent in cotton-growing regions of the United States and 20 percent in the rest of the Northern Corn Belt.
Research conducted by leading scientists at academic institutions around the United States shows the use of dual protein technologies, like those contained in SmartStax, could enable a refuge reduction while maintaining long-term effectiveness.
Dr. Marlin E. Rice, professor of entomology at Iowa State University said, "SmartStax, which combines YieldGard VT Triple PRO and Herculex XTRA technologies, will provide corn growers with dual-protein activity against corn rootworms, thereby offering the broadest spectrum of insect control available and a decreased probability of the development of insect resistance."
Casale added, "In a time when theworld is looking for agriculture to produce more, reducing the need for refuge acres would represent a win for the grain markets and a potentially significant financial gain for farmers."
SmartStax is co-developed with Dow AgroSciences and combines technologies from both companies for multiple modes-of-action against insects and tolerance to two herbicides in a single seed.
Both companies have now filed submissions for SmartStax in Japan and the United States to support commercial launch. Pending approval from various international regulatory authorities, SmartStax is on track to become commercially available in 2010 in the United States.
SmartStax will provide coverage in the following areas:
- Above-ground insect control: Dow's Herculex I technology with Monsanto's second-generation, two-gene lepidopteran control technology called YieldGard VT PRO, SmartStax will provide protection against European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, corn earworm, fall armyworm, western bean cutworm, and black cutworm;
- Below-ground insect control: Combining Dow AgroSciences' Herculex RW technology and Monsanto's YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 technology, SmartStax will provide protection against Western, Northern and Mexican corn rootworms; and,
- Weed control: Bringing together Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 technology with Liberty Link herbicide tolerance, SmartStax will offer broad spectrum weed and grass control with the option of two different modes-of-action.
At launch, the SmartStax technology platform will be made broadly available across Monsanto's three corn seed channels which include leading national brands, such as DEKALB, regional brands in the company's American Seeds Inc, or ASI and license partners through Corn States seed company.
The platform will also serve as the entry point for future advanced technologies in corn, such as water stress tolerance and nitrogen efficiency, a