Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) has taken an important step toward commercializing a new soybean product that will provide growers with a highly effective and economical weed control package on a soybean platform with higher yield opportunity.
The company announced today that it recently completed regulatory submission to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for dicamba-tolerant soybeans. Monsanto expects to complete regulatory submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and key global markets in the coming months.
Upon commercialization, the dicamba tolerance trait is expected to be stacked with the high yielding Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean trait to provide soybean farmers with more weed management options. This will further facilitate farmers' ability to implement more diverse management systems as recommended by university co-operative extension services and private sector weed scientists and help them effectively manage hard-to-control broadleaf weeds.
"We continue to identify and develop additional options to help soybean farmers protect and increase their yields and better control weeds and other soybean pests," said Roy Fuchs, global oilseeds lead for Monsanto. "This new biotech trait, combined with the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait, would offer growers a flexible and effective weed management system for soybeans along with greater yield opportunity."
Don Weeks, professor of agriculture and natural resources, Xiao-Zhuo Wang and Patricia Herman at the University of Nebraska discovered the dicamba tolerance gene. Monsanto has access to it through an exclusive licensing agreement with the university announced in 2005.
Dicamba is an ideal tank-mixing partner for Roundup® agricultural herbicides for both pre-plant and post-emergence weed control. Glyphosate tolerance revolutionized soybean production when it was introduced in 1996 and has continued to provide growers globally with an effective tool for managing weeds in soybeans. Roundup agricultural herbicides are the corner stone for weed control in soybeans and other crops, and satisfaction with the glyphosate-tolerant system continues to be high among growers. Dicamba is an economical herbicide that provides excellent control for a wide spectrum of broadleaf weeds and ideally complements Roundup agricultural herbicides to provide another step change in soybean weed control. This new technology would provide soybean farmers another low-cost weed management solution through the use of glyphosate, dicamba or combinations of both herbicides. It also will enable better weed management in cotton farming where soybean is used as a rotation crop, said Alan York, Williams Neal Reynolds Professor Emeritus of crop science and extension specialist for North Carolina State University.
"Dicamba-tolerant soybeans will provide growers with the opportunity to add an effective burn-down herbicide for control of troublesome weeds such as marestail (horseweed) close to or at planting," said Bryan Young, professor of weed science at Southern Illinois University.
The herbicide is effective against other key weeds, as well. Dicamba used post-emergent in season will improve consistency of control of hard-to-control weeds including morning glory and common water hemp, according to Bill Johnson, professor of weed science at Purdue University.
"As a soybean farmer from Tennessee, it's very encouraging to see new products like dicamba tolerance making progress," said Halls, Tenn., soybean farmer Johnny Dodson, and chairman of the American Soybean Association. "Products like this help to keep the American soybean farmer among the most competitive and productive in the world."
Farmers have successfully used dicamba to control broadleaf weeds in crops such as corn and wheat for decades with very little weed resistance. Only two known species of weeds in the United States have shown resistance to dicamba, and the geographical distribution of the known resistant populations is outside the key soybean producing areas. Both herbicides have a history of safe use, when used according to label directions.
The USDA submission for dicamba-tolerant soybeans is a critical first step for a key crop for growers. Monsanto also has plans to seek approval for a dicamba tolerant, Roundup Ready Flex product in cotton that would offer farmers additional tools for effective weed management. Last year, Monsanto and Germany-based BASF announced a joint-licensing agreement to accelerate the development of the next-generation of dicamba-based weed control chemistry products. The companies agreed to develop innovative formulations for dicamba for use with herbicide-tolerant cropping systems.
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