Monsanto Advances Projects through Pipeline

January 6, 2011 10:51 AM

Patience…help is coming for many of your farm’s most challenging agronomic issues.

Today, Monsanto Company’s annual research and development pipeline update highlighted nine new project advancements. Two projects—dicamba-tolerant soybeans and a system that eliminates corn detasseling—enter the final phase prior to product launch. Four new project concepts have survived the company’s discovery process to be added for the first time to the research and development pipeline. The company uses a multi-step procedure to shepherd new technology from discovery through market launch.
Steve Padgette, Vice President Biotechnology, says he’s never seen Monsanto’s pipeline as deep. “It’s also balanced across crops,” Padgette says.
The announcements also point to Monsanto’s growing relationship with Germany-based BASF Plant Science. The two agriculture firms began jointly developing traits in corn, soybeans, cotton and canola in 2007. Last year, the relationship was expanded to include wheat.
Three of this year’s advances have emerged from the joint efforts focusing on increasing yield and limiting crop stress. They include corn that more efficiently utilizes nitrogen, second generation higher yielding soybeans and higher-yielding/stress tolerant wheat.
Bob Reiter, Vice President Breeding Technology, says farmers should also be interested in several projects that continue to be explored in Monsanto’s breeding pipeline. In corn, gray leaf spot resistance and Goss’s Wilt resistance continue to be explored and are currently in phase 2 of the pipeline. Root knot nematode resistant cotton and reinform nematode resistant cotton are also in phase 2.
Monsanto’s one new product introduction for 2011 is a first generation aphid resistant soybean line. In 2010, the company launched Genuity SmartStax corn hybrids and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans.
In a separate announcement, Monsanto reported earnings per share growth and significant free cash generation for the first quarter of 2011, which ended November 30, 2010. Net sales increased 8% in the quarter to $1.8 billion, with increases across all major crops in the seeds and genomics segment. The company reports increases in seeds and traits revenue, particularly in corn and soybeans in Latin America and cotton in Australia.
The following research and development projects advance phases in 2011:

Phase 1

Proof of Concept
Average duration: 12 to 24 months
Probability of success: 25%
Trait candidates in this phase: Thousands
Phase Activities: Gene optimization and crop transformation
  • Higher-yielding/stress tolerant wheat—Using genes identified from other crop work, the first generation product is intended to offer better yield potential under average stress growing conditions and to stack yield and stress traits with herbicide tolerance.
  • Herbicide tolerant wheat—BASF collaboration. Plants with dicamba and glufosinate tolerant genes exhibited good tolerance in 2010 greenhouse studies.
  • Roundup Hybridization System II—second generation system designed to replace detasseling in seed production fields and increase seed yield in production.
  • Dicamba-tolerant canola—designed to add an additional herbicide mode of action, dicamba tolerance gets stacked with Roundup Ready technology.

Phase 2

Early Development
Average Duration—12 to 24 months
Probability of success—50%
Trait candidates in this phase—10 +
Phase Activities—Trait Development, Pre-regulatory data and large-scale transformation
  • Nitrogen-utilization corn—BASF collaboration. Targets ways corn plants can use nitrogen more efficiently. Explores the potential to boost yield under normal nitrogen conditions or to stabilize yield in low nitrogen environments.
  • Second-generation higher-yielding soybeans—field testing data is demonstrating stacking yield traits has an additive effect. Stacks of first-generation soybean yield product with Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield has shown 7% yield improvement over first generation high yielding trait.
  • Second-generation insect protected soybeans—stacks multiple Bt events to control soybean looper and fall armyworm. First generation product was approved for use in Brazil only in 2010.

Phase 3

Advanced development stage
Average duration: 12 to 24 months.
Probability of success: 75%
Trait candidates in this phase: less than 5%
Further activities: Trait Integration, field testing and regulatory data generation
No advancements

Phase 4

Average duration: 12 to 36 months
Probability of success: 90%
Trait candidates in this phase: 1
Phase Activities: Regulatory submission, seed bulk-up and pre-marketing
  • Dicamba-tolerant soybeans—stacking dicamba tolerance on top of the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean platform allows the use of dicamba and glyphosate for pre-plant burndown and in-season weed control.
  • Roundup Hybridization System—replaces detasseling in hybrid seed corn production. Aim is to reduce seed manufacturing costs.

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