Monsanto seeks approval for new GM soybean

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soybean, Roundup, Monsanto

A higher-yielding variety of genetically modified soybeans from
Monsanto could be introduced commercially within the next few
years, according to the leading biotechnology firm.

Monsanto's second generation Roundup RReady2Yield soybean is currently under review by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has called for public comments after receiving a petition for deregulation of the variety. According to Monsanto's petition, its new soybean – MON 89788 – can improve crop yields by 4 to 7 percent, compared to Roundup Ready soybeans. Like the first generation product, the new variety is designed to tolerate Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. The firm said that 87 percent of US soybean fields and 60 percent of international soybean fields were planted with Roundup Ready soybeans in 2005. In a statement issued last week, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said that after reviewing the scientific evidence, its preferred action is to deregulate – or approve – the soybean based on the determination that it is as safe as its traditionally bred counterparts. The agency, which prepared a draft environmental assessment to determine whether deregulating the soybean could have a significant impact on the environment, said it will now consider public comments received by April 6. If APHIS grants the petition for deregulation, the soybean and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS. If approval is granted, Monsanto said it expects the new soybean variety to be commercially introduced in 2009. The second generation product would then replace the original Roundup Ready soybean, which would be gradually phased out. The firm also expects to apply its Roundup Rready2Yield technology to its Vistive low linolenic soybeans, Monsanto told FoodNavigator-USA.com. As part of its 2007 first quarter results announcement earlier this year, Monsanto said it has made "remarkable"​ research and development advancements over the past year. It highlighted seven specific projects, including moving its RounupRReady2Yield soybeans to Phase 4. Other developments included its Vistive III soybeans, designed to have a similar oil profile to olive oil, meeting the company's target composition profile on three of its genetic events. In addition, High-Oil soybeans, a soybean project from Monsanto's Renessen joint venture with Cargill, advanced to Phase 3 after the technology continued to demonstrate an oil yield advantage compared with conventional checks. Monsanto also said its Higher-Yielding corn advanced to Phase 2, with three of the company's genetic events demonstrating a five percent to ten percent yield increase. The firm's first and second generation drought tolerant corn also continued to demonstrate good performance, it said.

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