Our Commitment to Steward Corn Rootworm-Protected Traits
Monsanto is committed to the success of our farmer customers and to providing practical, flexible and cost-effective solutions that address on-farm challenges, contribute to farmer choice and provide economic benefits to our customers. To ensure insect-protected Bt traits remain a viable tool for farmers, we are committed to ongoing conversations with the corn industry – making the following commitments to establish the most comprehensive approach to the stewardship of corn rootworm-protected traits.
The Challenge: The Corn Rootworm Pest
One of the most devastating pests in the United States is the corn rootworm – which does its damage as larvae feeding on the roots of young corn plants in farmers’ fields. Rootworm larval feeding inhibits the corn plant's ability to take up water and nutrients, decreases its ability to develop and remain upright, and ultimately leads to possible yield loss, depending on the damage inflicted on the roots by the feeding pests and the growing conditions.
Solutions for Farmers: Managing Corn Rootworm Populations
Monsanto offers three corn products – Genuity® VT Triple® PRO™, Genuity® VT Triple PRO® RIB Complete™ and Genuity® Smartstax® RIB Complete™ – all of which provide below-ground protection against the corn rootworm. Field monitoring of these products, which Monsanto has conducted since these products were first introduced, demonstrates an outstanding level of performance and grower satisfaction on greater than 99.8 percent of all acres planted to the technology in the United States.
Our Recommendations for Fields with Unexpected Damage: Best Management Practices
There are geographical pockets of heavy rootworm infestation in fields where there is a long history of corn-on-corn plantings. In these fields, farmers may see intense rootworm pressure that can overwhelm plants, leading to damage and some surviving insects. In the limited cases where our products are impacted, we work closely with farmers to better understand what they are seeing and provide recommendations to reduce rootworm populations, limit rootworm damage and enable insect resistance management on their fields, as well as their entire farms.
In 2012, the success of our best management practices overwhelmingly demonstrated that farmers can easily and practically manage field-localized cases of unexpected damage through both proactive and reactive measures. In addition, we saw a decline in performance inquiries related to rootworm damage in 2012 compared with 2011. These performance inquiries continued to be clearly isolated and continued to represent less than 0.2 percent of the acres that were planted to Monsanto’s corn rootworm technology in 2012.
"What about Resistance?" and Other Common Questions
Corn rootworm resistance is suspected in a number of isolated fields across the Corn Belt. However, the more important question is the one that farmers are asking: “Is this technology working for me in my fields?” And, for the vast majority (greater than 99 percent), the answer is yes. Indications are farmers continue to have great success with our products – including those few farmers who saw unexpected damage from corn rootworm in 2011, but successfully controlled the populations on those fields with best management practices in 2012.
Ongoing Stewardship Efforts
We take refuge compliance, insect resistance management (IRM) and the stewardship of our products seriously. In 2012, we established the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Program, pledging $3 million over the next three years to support academic research on corn rootworm. In addition, we are focused on numerous efforts such as expanding our Genuity Smartstax RIB Complete portfolio (pyramided products) that provide dual modes of action, researching other genes in our pipeline, monitoring and educating farmers on IRM compliance, and the annual wide-scale monitoring of insect populations.