EPA Seeks Comments On New Product
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public comment period on the proposed regulatory decision to register Enlist Duo, which contains glyphosate and the choline salt of 2,4-D, to control weeds in corn and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate 2,4-D. If finalized, EPA’s action will provide an additional tool to reduce the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds. The proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer, including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, and grower education and remediation. This proposal would also allow EPA to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and on the use of Enlist Duo if resistance to the pesticide develops. EPA will review all comments prior to reaching a final decision, which the agency expects to issue in late summer or early fall.
New Patent Awarded for Innovation in Corn
California’s Ceres Inc., an agricultural biotechnology and seed company, has been awarded a U.S. patent for a genetic sequence derived from corn, covering uses of the gene in research, product development and seed production. The company believes that its gene could be useful in regulating plant development and key biosynthetic processes. Ceres plans to offer seed companies a commercial license to the innovation, including an opportunity for exclusivity in certain crops. “We are currently evaluating the potential market for this gene among corn seed companies and the applicability of our patented invention in the development and production of improved corn hybrids,” says Richard Hamilton, president and CEO of Ceres.
Research Yields New Ag Technologies
Researchers at Montana State University have developed new technologies in the areas of biotechnology and agriculture that are patent-pending and available for licensing. At MSU’s College of Agriculture, researchers have developed rust resistance in wheat, which could provide a solution to a spreading pathogen that has already destroyed crops in Africa and Asia. The non-genetically modified trait that has been re-created in varieties of wheat has shown resistance to a pair of rust strains, Ug99 and Yr27, which have emerged in recent years. Globally, the three types of wheat rust (stem, leaf and stripe rust) are the most economically damaging diseases that attack wheat. The development of rust-resistant wheat varieties is estimated to have saved more than $1 billion annually for more than four decades.
Research Shows Food From GM Crops Safe
The Crop Science Society of America, which represents more than 6,000 crop scientists, released a statement supporting the use of plant biotechnology and opposing mandatory labeling of foods derived from GM crops. Analyses of more than 25 years of research, representing thousands of independent studies, shows that GM crops are as safe as crops derived from traditional breeding methods. Since GM crops pose no significant health risks, requiring labels for foods with GM crops could falsely alarm and mislead consumers. “The research overwhelmingly shows that GM crops are safe and pose no significant health or environmental risks,” says Stephen Baenziger, chair of the CSSA Science Policy Committee. “In the light of such evidence, CSSA sees no basis for the mandatory labeling of GM foods.”
Bayer Submits New Seed Treatment to EPA
Bayer CropScience has an application pending with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the registration of ILeVO seed treatment. If approved, ILeVO would be the first product to provide soybean seedlings protection from the soil-borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme — the fungus that causes sudden death syndrome. During research and field trials, ILeVO seed treatment protected soybeans from early-season infection and reduced late-season leaf chlorosis and necrosis that leads to leaf, flower and pod abortion. The active ingredient in ILeVO is systemic and moves from the seed into the tissue of the stem and roots of soybean seedlings. Bayer anticipates EPA registration for ILeVO by the end of 2014. If registered this year, Bayer expects ILeVO will be available for the 2015 growing season.
Marrone Bio Submits Biofumigant to EPA
Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., a global provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products has submitted MBI-601 EP, a biofumigant, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for registration. The product controls and suppresses plant parasitic nematodes, insect pests and soil-borne plant diseases in agricultural and horticultural soils. “We expect MBI-601 to fill a real need for high-value fruit, vegetable and ornamental growers,” says Jim Lappin, MBI’s vice president of product management and business development. “MBI-601, a naturally occurring, biologically-based fumigant, will provide an alternative to the traditional synthetic materials. As we further develop the product, additional uses may include post-harvest, turf, silviculture and seed treatments.”
NUE Technology Receives Patent
Arcadia Biosciences Inc., has announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted the company a key patent for its Nitrogen Use Efficiency technology. The patent covers the use of NUE technology in monocot crops such as wheat, rice, corn, sugar cane, sorghum and barley, offering significant benefits to both growers and the environment. Arcadia’s NUE technology enables farmers to increase crop yield per unit of nitrogen fertilizer applied. The patent further expands Arcadia’s NUE patent portfolio, which includes NUE technology patents already granted in China, Vietnam, Australia, Mexico, Europe and other key geographies for monocot crop production. Additional patent applications are pending in multiple jurisdictions.
France Defininitively Bans Growing GM Corn
France’s majority senate has approved a standing ban on MON810, a type of genetically modified corn. Even though the GM corn has been cleared by the European Union, the French senate says it poses a risk to the environment. The lower house of parliament in France had already adopted a law confirming the ban last month. “This law aims to give a legal framework to our country, to ensure that a ban is applied,” according to French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll. France adopted a decree in March halting the sowing of Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 corn, the sole GM crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.
Paraguay Approves New Corn Hybrid Paraguay’s Ministry of Agriculture has approved a new genetically engineered corn event. The new GE corn, MON89034 x TC1507 x NK603 Powercore was developed by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. Powercore is a corn hybrid that comprises two herbicide-tolerant genes and three genes resistant to pests of economic importance in Paraguay. This event combines the control of major corn pests, such as fall armyworm, sugarcane borer, corn stalk borer, corn earworm and black cutworm, and tolerance to glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides. This event has already been approved in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
EU Parliament Fails to Agree on Seed Law
Following a debate in plenary, the European Parliament concluded its first reading of the Commission’s proposal for a modernization of the EU’s seed law without putting forward any concrete amendments. “The European Parliament has given away an important opportunity to shape a new and modern seed law for breeders, seed producers and farmers in Europe,” says Garlich von Essen, secretary general of the European Seed Association. “For the first time, the European Parliament had true co-decision power in this policy area. It’s a pity that it has failed to use it constructively.”
EuropaBio Launches GM Forum
EuropaBio has launched Growing Voices, a digital forum designed to help c
onsumers learn about the reality of genetically modified crops and to facilitate dialogue between consumers and non-industry experts from farming, academia and politics. “GM offers real opportunities to develop crops that provide better resilience to extremes of weather and land conditions. There is the potential to add extra nutrients that can directly help people in developing countries who are vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies in their diets. As the world’s population continues to increase, access to these technologies becomes even more important,” says Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs in the United Kingdom.
Sustainable DHA omega-3 Canola
A significant milestone has been achieved by Australia’s long-chain omega-3 canola research collaboration when it produced DHA oil levels equal to that found in wild fish. The collaboration was formed in 2011 between Nuseed, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Grains Research and Development Corporation. “We recently achieved our target DHA oil levels, giving us encouragement that we are on the right path to deliver a commercially viable alternative omega-3 oil source,” says Malcolm Devine, Nuseed’s global innovation lead. The collaboration is now moving into full development pre-regulatory stages with both field and lab performance trials. “We aim to have seed available for commercial production by around 2018, provided key development milestones are achieved and the required regulatory protocols are met.”