Corn that Fights Drought

January 31, 2012 12:36 AM
Corn that Fights Drought

Water will always be required to grow a corn crop, but growers might soon have a new tool in fighting drought.

Monsanto Company has received deregulation from USDA for MON 87460, the company’s first-generation drought-tolerant trait for corn. To date, drought resistance has come from traditional plant breeding and native genes. Drought-tolerant corn is projected to be introduced as part of a system that combines improved genetics, agronomic practices and the genetically engineered drought trait.

The first biotech drought-tolerant corn has a gene that tells the plant to produce the cspB protein, which enhances the way plants adapt to drought stress. Under drought conditions, plants with cspB maintain photosynthesis better, which leads to increased kernel numbers per ear and improved overall stress management.

Monsanto plans to conduct on-farm trials in the Western Great Plains in 2012 to give farmers experience with the product, while generating data to help make commercial decisions. The plan is to use Genuity VT Triple Pro and Genuity VT Double Pro as the agronomic trait platform for the new drought-tolerant trait.

The new genetically engineered trait is a product of Monsanto’s Yield and Stress R&D collaboration in plant biotechnology with Germany-based BASF. Complimentary discovery programs are ongoing to produce solutions to yield and stress in soybeans, cotton, soybeans, canola and wheat.

USDA deregulation for the new corn trait concludes the U.S. federal regulatory process. Import approvals in the key corn import markets are currently in progress.

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