USDA lifts regulation on Monsanto GM corn

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture

A line of genetically engineered corn from Monsanto is no longer
considered a plant pest, meaning that the company now has the right
to market it to farmers, but the company has not yet announced when
it is due to make its product commercially available.

The announcement was made last week by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), after it re-examined Monsanto's MON 88017 genetically engineered corn in response to a petition filed by the biotech giant in 2004.

The development of MON88017 was a "technological development," according to the company, which simultaneously introduced two genetic traits into corn hybrids to create the GM corn variety. The traits make the plant resistant to corn rootworm and tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate.

In a review of the data submitted by Monsanto and other scientific data, the USDA found that the line of corn should no longer be regulated as a plant pest product.

Reasons for the change in the product's regulatory status include the fact that MON 88017 does not exhibit any pathogenic properties, nor any characteristics that would cause it to be weedier than other cultivated corn. At the same time, the USDA found that the crop would be unlikely to increase the weediness or adversely affect the "genetic diversity" of related plants.

Field observations also helped reveal that the crop should not damage organisms beneficial to agriculture any more than other cultivated corn. It was also found that cultivation of the corn should not reduce the ability to control pests and weeds in other crops, said the USDA.

However, the agricultural products firm said that the crop "will not be introduced into the food channel for some time to come,"​ but could not reveal any dates.

It is currently working on obtaining approvals for its product in other countries, including Japan and Canada.

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