Monsanto Reports Progress with Soybeans and Corn Projects in R&D Pipeline
04 January 2007
During its first-quarter 2007 fiscal year conference call, Monsanto Company reported on a number of research-and-development (R&D) advancements, highlighting progress across both its biotechnology and breeding platforms.
For the company’s three High Impact Technology (HIT) projects, Monsanto reported progress in its next-generation herbicide-resistant Roundup RReady2Yield soybeans; ongoing yield benefits from its first-generation drought-tolerant corn, currently in its third year of field testing; and progress with a new soybean (Vistive III), which are designed to have a similar oil profile to olive oil.
Monsanto is working toward a 5 bushel per acre yield improvement with its RReady2Yield soybeans.
High-Oil soybeans, a soybean project from Monsanto’s Renessen joint venture with Cargill, advanced to Phase 3 after the technology continued to demonstrate a clear oil yield advantage.
Second-generation Drought Tolerant corn continued to complement the first-generation trait, with strong performance in both water-stressed and broad-acre field testing, according to the company.
Monsanto’s Higher-Yielding corn advanced to Phase 2, with three of the company’s genetic events demonstrating a 5% to 10% yield increase.
Nitrogen Utilization corn technology events continued to demonstrate efficient use of nitrogen within testing environments, providing overall yield stability even as the amount of applied nitrogen decreased.
As excited as we are about the biotech pipeline, we understand that our success rides on the combination of biotechnology and breeding. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on making sure that—before we ever look to biotechnology—we have the best, highest yielding seed possible so farmers can start each season strong.—Robert T. Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto chief technology officer and executive vice president
In 2006, the yield advantage in Monsanto’s national corn brands was reinforced through more than 49,000 corn breeding comparisons, which highlighted a record 11.7 bushels per acre advantage for Monsanto’s DEKALB brand in the widely planted 110-day corn.
In soybeans, Fraley also highlighted a strategy that combines strong, conventional soy breeding capabilities with breakthrough applications of molecular breeding to more efficiently identify characteristics that are important to growers.
Separately, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute asserted that because of inadequate data collection on the number of new plants under construction, the quantity of grain that will be needed for fuel ethanol distilleries has been vastly understated.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that distilleries will require only 60 million tons of corn from the 2008 harvest. But here at the Earth Policy Institute (EPI), we estimate that distilleries will need 139 million tons—more than twice as much. If the EPI estimate is at all close to the mark, the emerging competition between cars and people for grain will likely drive world grain prices to levels never seen before. The key questions are: How high will grain prices rise? When will the crunch come? And what will be the worldwide effect of rising food prices?—Lester Brown
Monsanto presentation to Citigroup Chemical Conference
Clearly we need to shift biomass fuel efforts away from food crops and towards varied native plants that thrive on land that's not well suited for industrial monocultures, but that's not what Monsanto wants to see... They want farmers locked into seed contracts and paying per-acre technology fees for the privilege of planting the seeds they were just forced to buy instead of using last year's saved seeds. It's no wonder farms "need" a government subsidy to just break even in today's highly chemical oriented, patented environment.
Posted by: Erick | 04 January 2007 at 05:02 PM
Erick, just as a note, almost every farmer buys their seed every year from a monopolized seed market. With the highly genetically altered seeds sold these days, most seeds planted by the average farmer would most likely not develop correctly. Saving seed went away 2-3 generations ago. The monsanto and duponts of the world have ready, monopolized markets. With the combining, in recent years, of the seed producers into monopolies, competitive seed markets and prices are gone. Where's Teddy Roosevelt when we need him.
I agree that we need to develop native species for biomass fuel development, instead of messing with our food supply, if we are to gather our fuel, instead of pumping it out of the ground. Increasing yields may happen for a while, but eventually will level off. Seems like a short sighted, selfish venture to satisfy investers immediate needs instead of looking for the long term benefit of the world.
Posted by: Mark A | 04 January 2007 at 06:08 PM
This is actually an opportunity for organic co-ops. Screw Monsanto and grow organic, which sells for a substantially higher price, using seeds that are substantially cheaper (you are allowed to cross breed, some of which are patented, but you are under no circumstances to genetically modify them).
This isn't what the biofuel industry wants to hear. ADM and their posse have been downright greedy ever since it occurred to them that they could be the next oil prince(s).
To be honest, I'd rather see advances made in algae cultivation, as it would have much less of an effect on our food supply, not to mention our soil.
Posted by: John | 04 January 2007 at 06:37 PM
Genetically altered crops (transgenic) can and do contaminate organic farming operations by natural pollination from nearby GE crops, thus enabling Monsanto to sue you for patent infringement and your crop becomes worthless.
Saving seed (at least in Canada) is still done today, at least where genetic contamination hasn't occurred yet. It's also the way the most of the world farms, and it's actually re-gaining popularity in an organized effort to combat the monopolistic practices of Monsanto and friends in the third world.
Posted by: Erick | 04 January 2007 at 09:15 PM
I don't understand the aversion to genetically engineered crops and other organisms, honestly. Nature isn't always better.
Posted by: Cervus | 04 January 2007 at 09:54 PM
Yes, and farmers are not forced into buying monsanto seeds. They have always had the option of using 'freeware' corn and saving the seeds for next year, but somewhere along the way, people realized Monsanto and friends provided value and were able to increase profits for them by introducing technology in the seed. Farmers put more cash of front in the seed instead of spraying it on the field after planting. And by the way, their is no monopoly. The seed business is very competitive. People will change in a heartbeat depending on yeild results.
Posted by: JC | 05 January 2007 at 05:26 AM
Monsanto is no ones friend!
Posted by: sensitive_man | 05 January 2007 at 05:54 AM
Uh its not monsanteos fault . You cant save seed not just because monsanto doesnt wantyou yo is becuse monsanto doesnt want you to because its a fricken ge crop and they are required to keep a draconian lockdown on it. Yes thierlawyers and all crafted the laws and regs but in general it would have been far more draconian and bizzantine otherwise,
As for corsspolisation. Because if the stupid way copyright law works as well as the way crop growing works they have to threaten to sue in order tokeep thier patents. AND they have to try to force you to not do anything with the corrsbred plants seed wise because again if they dont they lose patents. Thats billions of bucks at stake because of an antiquated law.
And most of this mess is YOUR fault for being soo paranoid and freak9n out about ge crops in the first place. As a result they have to be all stormtrooper on everyone just to keep[ running.
On top of all that its a multi nationalmega crp so duh ita not warm and fuzzy none of them are!
Posted by: wintermane | 05 January 2007 at 06:15 AM
Maybe cervus and wintermane can put together a ge recipe book! Of course the LL601 rice contamination problem in the US last year wasn't on fox news:
The USDA should abandon its accelerated review process in favor of a careful, thorough assessment of LL601's risks and potential environmental impacts.
Contamination events may involve pharmaceutical and industrial chemicals. The USDA's handling of the LL rice contamination incident emboldens pharma crop companies to ignore USDA requirements with impunity. Companies have little incentive to comply with USDA regulations when the department ignores potential compliance infractions in a rush to alleviate the negative impacts of contamination for the industry. The possibility strengthens the conviction that a ban on the outdoor production of pharma/industrial food crops is the only way to completely protect the U.S. food supply from contamination by pharmaceutical and industrial compounds...
Posted by: fyi CO2 | 05 January 2007 at 09:13 AM
Monsanto- the company that gave us pesticides, PCBs, Agent Orange and GE growth hormones for cattle.
Posted by: fyi CO2 | 05 January 2007 at 09:33 AM
I think evil big seed companies developed to feed the world when we were being told we would all starve to death by 1980.
Is it necessary to assume all business is of evil intent?We must then assume that all these researchers are doctor evils.
I am not naive and dont mind a little watchdog action but the tin hat hate every corporate research except algal oil thread is tiresome.
Wait,I think big algae is hacking my comp,gotta go.
Posted by: earl | 05 January 2007 at 11:46 AM
There are no restrictions on growing most of these GE food crops, they get approved as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and therefore are treated NO differently than any other crop and there's no labelling requirement on food so that when someone has an adverse reaction it can't be traced to the transgenic crop.
When the seed from that GE crop lands in my field that's serious contamination and I should be able to sue whomever owns it or was responsible for it polluting my land, but instead we have pantent laws that protect the multinationals so that it's them suing me for patent infringement. Farmers ARE losing their livelihoods because of this, and unfortunately it's getting worse, not better.
The farmer that decided to try some Monsanto seeds one year will be forced to pay the technology fee forever because as long as there's a single plant growing on his land with the patented genes, Monsanto can (and does) sue unless you pay the fee, regardless of what seeds the farmer is actually planting.
Posted by: Erick | 05 January 2007 at 03:36 PM
As with anything new you have to look t all the risks before you jump in. With going ge crops specialy froma more dracoian rovider yu have to be sure your either gona stick with em or your gona be able to exterminate all trace of the ge plants when you switch.
Problem is alot of desperate farmers who are already near the end because of mega corps being more effiecent then they areare now going down because the ge crops of course happen to be alot better .
So they try em without any ability to swap back or ability ot pay the bills long term.
This simply is the decade/decades that most family farms bite the dust.
Posted by: wintermane | 06 January 2007 at 02:17 AM
Everything is relative.
Indigenous corn originally had kernels size of a thumb. All carrots we are eating today are “invasive species” originated from Afganistan. Our domestic dogs are clear mutant freaks long away from their natural origin – wolves. Apples have about 300 identified naturally occurring pesticides, herbicides, toxins, and carcinogens – luckily to us in very small quantities. Not the case with opium, marihuana, tobacco, or 2/3 of wild mushrooms.
All agricultural crops we eat today are heavily genetically modified mutants, carefully selected over thousand of years of natural mutations (mostly from natural radioactivity). Non of them will survive a single season in the wild without extensive human care. Last century natural mutation of agricultural crops was significantly enhanced by chemical agents, and last 50 years by broad irradiation by X-rays or even exposure to nuclear reactors.
But somehow all these mutants are considered now as being natural organic foods.
Now, when finally science gets us instrument of open-eye precise engineering of our agricultural crops, without broad and unpredictable forced mutation of initial genes, all the hell got loose. We consider 20-years old mutants as “organic”.
Posted by: Andrey | 06 January 2007 at 03:41 AM