Monsanto Addresses EPA Memorandum on Corn Rootworm Protein (Cry3bb1), Reinforces Commitment to Proactive Product Stewardship

12/1/2011

Monsanto Company said that it continues to take reports on the performance of its corn rootworm products seriously and remains committed to working with farmers to encourage the adoption of integrated pest management practices when managing high rootworm populations on farm. 

The company’s remarks came in light of a memorandum from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which evaluated available information about areas where greater than expected rootworm damage occurred to Monsanto’s single mode-of-action technologies that contained the Cry3Bb1 protein. The Agency’s memorandum notes that resistance is suspected in some field locations where farmers faced greater than expected rootworm damage when utilizing single mode-of-action products containing the Cry3Bb1 protein.

Monsanto said it takes the Agency’s review seriously and while scientific confirmation of corn rootworm resistance to the Cry3Bb1 protein has not been demonstrated, the company noted that it has already been working to support the adoption of best management practices for the 2012 season in these specific field situations.

“There is nothing we take more seriously than the stewardship of our products,” said Ty Vaughn, corn product lead at Monsanto. “Even though we see no immediate impact on the products we offer or the refuge options currently available to our farmer customers based on the scientific information available to date, we believe farmers that plant continuous corn should carefully consider a series of best management practices to ensure they stay ahead of this insect.”

Monsanto has been working with independent researchers to better understand the factors that led to greater than expected rootworm damage to this single mode-of-action technology in these areas, and to recommend specific best management practices to support its farmer customers. More information on these best management practices can be found on Monsanto’s website, www.monsanto.com.

The company said it shares the EPA’s recommendations that careful monitoring and stewardship needs to occur in fields with greater than expected rootworm damage, and that dual mode-of-action approaches with an integrated pest management recommendation are critical to the long-term durability of trait technologies. The Agency recently extended the registrations of the company’s dual mode-of-action technologies, Genuity® SmartStax® RIB Complete™ and Genuity® SmartStax®, reinforcing the value of these products and their ability to provide farmers sound management options in areas faced with high populations of corn rootworms.

Importantly, the company also noted that the recommendations outlined by the EPA are consistent with Monsanto’s best management practices that are being implemented for field-specific situations where farmers were faced with high populations of corn rootworms during the 2011 season. These best management practices, which were announced last month, are designed to provide farmers with valuable on-farm recommendations for sound stewardship and the long-term durability of rootworm-protected technologies.

Monsanto noted that the Cry3Bb1 protein has delivered exceptional protection against corn rootworm since it was first introduced in 2003, and it continues to do so today on greater than 99 percent of acres planted to YieldGard VT Triple® and Genuity® VT Triple PRO™ corn products in the United States.  Today, Monsanto’s rootworm-protected products continue to provide U.S. corn farmers with strong protection against this damaging pest, as well as a higher yield potential than competitive rootworm-protected technologies across more than 37 million acres. 

Farmers that choose to continuously plant corn-on-corn have routinely faced pressure from high populations of rootworms for years, even prior to the introduction of insect-protection trait technologies during the last decade. Today, there are geographical pockets of heavy rootworm infestation in areas where there’s a long history of corn-on-corn plantings. In these areas, some single mode-of-action products – either a soil-applied insecticide or trait technology – have seen intense rootworm pressure that can overwhelm the plants, leading to damage and some surviving insects. Farmers in these areas work to effectively manage this problem in their fields every year.

Monsanto, like other trait and product providers, works closely with its farmer customers to monitor areas on farms where greater than expected rootworm damage is identified. The company noted that these areas typically see extreme weather anomalies and/or are annually planted to consecutive corn-on-corn as opposed to the recommended rotation of corn and soybeans.