Growers who raised corn hybrids containing Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera trait need to notify grain handlers upon delivery of corn this fall. Be advised that some grain handlers are refusing to accept corn containing the trait.
Although Viptera is fully approved for use in the U.S. and has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, it has not received clearance for export to China. Specifically, grain handlers Bunge and Consolidated Grain and Barge (CGB) have indicated they will not purchase corn with Agrisure Viptera since it has not yet been approved for import to China.
Chuck Lee, head of corn, North America, for Syngenta, says the commercial launch of the Agrisure Viptera trait was in compliance with policies set by the National Corn Growers Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information for the introduction of new traits. Nearly 70 different hybrids with Agrisure Viptera were sold in 2011—all ending in the hybrid designation of 3110 or 3111. No other Agrisure traits are affected. Syngenta intends to sell hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera trait in 2012 and expects Chinese approval by late March 2012.
Syngenta has filed a court complaint against Bunge to remove the market barrier. However, in a corporate statement, Soren Schroder, president and CEO of Bunge North America, maintains the company is protecting the integrity of the export supply chain.
According to Schroder, Bunge’s decision not to accept Agrisure Viptera is consistent with the North American Export Grain Association’s policy to advocate that technology providers receive all major international approvals for a trait prior to seed sales.
Growers with questions can call (800) 319-1360 between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. (CST) Monday through Saturday, e-mail Syngenta at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.agrisure viptera.com/exportinfo.
Pure Alfalfa—Or Is It?
Now that Roundup Ready alfalfa is heading back to the field, some farmers are asking why it only has a 90% trait purity claim.
"Any bag of alfalfa that has a Genuity Roundup Ready logo needs to meet Monsanto’s trait requirements," says Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics International. "For alfalfa, that minimum is 90% trait purity. The reason it’s different than corn or soybeans is that the genetics are more complicated."
Alfalfa is an autotetraploid, meaning it contains four copies of each chromosome, compared with diploids such as corn and soybeans, which have two copies of each chromosome. The complexity of autotetraploid inheritance and the fact that alfalfa cultivars are heterogeneous populations makes producing seed with a high percentage of trait purity a more difficult task.
Another contrast with corn and soybeans is that Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties are being developed using a forward-breeding process, rather than converting existing lines. This means new varieties, not existing ones, will carry the technology.
"On a bag of Roundup Ready alfalfa, there is a guarantee that is associated with the trait that 90% or more of the seed will have the Roundup Ready trait. So in a typical field, you would expect 8% to 10% to be nulls, which would be taken out with the first Roundup application," McCaslin says.
Stand establishment and yield. Alfalfa’s smaller seed size and limited supply of stored energy to support a developing seedling are challenges to establishment. That’s why growers compensate with a higher seeding rate per acre. Typically, alfalfa growers sow more than 100 seeds per square foot to successfully establish at least 25 to 30 healthy plants.
"Better weed control with the glyphosate herbicide often gives Roundup Ready alfalfa an establishment advantage compared with non-GMO alfalfa seed and conventional weed control," McCaslin says.
"There have been numerous studies now that show that with 90% trait purity, there is no negative impact on stand establishment or yield," he adds.
University researchers say growers can cut back on seeding rates if they prepare a firm seedbed and plant at the right time, into the proper soil conditions and at a depth of ¼".