Imagine being able to tear open a single bag of traited corn and pour it into the planter without thought to refuge configurations and percentages. The day is almost here. Monsanto Company has just received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an integrated refuge in Corn Belt states.
Monsanto’s in-the-bag product will be called Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete. It will totally satisfy the refuge requirement and growers using the product will no longer need to plant a separate, structure refuge for above-or-below ground pests in the Corn Belt. A bag of Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete will contain a blend of 95% SmartStax and 5% of a compatible non-Bt hybrid.
Refuges are still an integral component of insect resistance management. It provides a shelter for insects susceptible to Bt technology. The idea is to preserve Bt technology by giving rare individual insects that might happen to survive feeding on Bt corn a chance to mate with susceptible insects and produce susceptible offspring. For the 2011 growing season, producers will still need to follow refuge requirements.
Sale of the integrated refuge product is targeted for the 2012 season. Since the approval comes so close to planting, Monsanto spokesman Ben Kampelman says there will likely be only limited demonstration seed available in 2011. “We’ll be working with some leading farmers and look to swap their existing Genuity SmartStax orders for a RIB option,” says Kampelman. “This would give some relevant experience to some growers, which helps as we prepare for the ultimate full-scale roll-out in 2012. Commercialization is pending individual state authorizations and notifications, as required.”
Brett Begemann, Monsanto Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President, says eliminating the structured refuge contributes to timely, more-efficient planting and on-farm productivity. Simplicity and convenience is attractive to many growers.
SmartStax is the outcome of a collaboration between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. Integrating the refuge into the bag is being allowed because SmartStax hybrids contain multiple modes of action for insect control—it also offers two herbicide tolerance traits. Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete will launch in Monsanto’s national and regional seed brands, as well as licensee partners. The company says it has completed the infrastructure investments in seed production to ensure a full-scale commercial launch in 2012.
Southern growers abide by more stringent requirements where Bt cotton is grown. At this time, Monsanto has not announced plans to bring an integrated refuge product to the southern market. The company has been able to reduce refuge from 50% to 20% in the South in some multi-mode corn hybrids.