EPA paves way for ’10 roll-out of SmartStax

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. and Canadian farmers are a step closer to being able to use a new corn seed trait combination that provides comprehensive insect and weed control, and that allows farmers to significantly reduce their refuge.

SmartStax is the outcome of a cross-licensing agreement and research and development collaboration signed in 2007 between Monsanto Company and Dow AgroSciences.

It just received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canadian Feed Inspection Agency, setting the stage for a 2010 commercial launch.

Smaller refuge

The decision by the U.S. and Canada also includes a reduction of the typical structured farm refuge from 20 percent to 5 percent in Canada and the U.S. Corn Belt, and from 50 percent to 20 percent in the Cotton Belt for both above- and below-ground pests.

In 1999, the EPA enacted refuge requirements to help prevent corn insect pests, such as the European corn borer, from developing resistance to Bt technology.

Huge 2010 roll-out

According to the two companies, the new corn seed technology is expected to be offered to farmers on 3 million- to 4-million-plus acres in its first year of availability.

The product’s launch would represent the largest introduction of a corn biotech seed product in the history of agriculture, according to a joint news release.

“The 5 percent refuge for SmartStax will give farmers a tremendous advantage to increase whole farm corn yield 5 to 10 percent,” said Robb Fraley, Monsanto executive vice president.

“The SmartStax technology developed by Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto will help U.S. and Canadian corn farmers take corn production to the next level,” said Jerome Peribere, Dow AgroSciences President and CEO.

“By combining the industry’s leading seed traits, SmartStax protects against the broadest spectrum of insect pests with the most consistent level of control available.”

About SmartStax

SmartStax will be sold by Dow AgroSciences through its seed brands, which include Mycogen Seeds, Dairyland, Renze, Brodbeck, and Triumph.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences will offer other seed companies access to SmartStax through licenses whereby Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences will directly license their respective component technologies. Monsanto will manage the licensing process for itself and as an agent for Dow AgroSciences.

Dow AgroSciences will use SmartStax as the platform to launch future trait technologies including Dow AgroSciences Herbicide Tolerant Trait technology and other agronomic enhancements. The technology is a new family of traits being developed by Dow AgroSciences that will provide tolerance to 2,4-D and other classes of herbicides. Introduction to the market is anticipated for 2012.

Import approval pending. Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto are also working with the regulatory agencies in key countries to have import approvals for SmartStax in place prior to the 2010 U.S. season.

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