The announcement, made earlier this week, could lead to the first new soybean technology developed in more than a decade. "We believe this next-generation soybean technology represents a new opportunity for us to set the bar higher while continuing to deliver new value to farmers," said Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer and executive vice president. "Roundup RReady2Yield is certainly a centerpiece technology within our soybean pipeline and one that we're looking forward to delivering to U.S. soybean farmers." According to Monsanto, its new soybean - MON 89788 - can improve crop yields by seven to 11 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 in February, 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 new soybean has been designated a High Impact Technology (HIT) within its R&D pipeline, meaning the high-yielding crop is targeted for larger-acre. According to the company, this approach is expected to enable more farmers to access the technology in its first full commercial launch year. "Our job is to deliver innovation to the farm," said Fraley. "We anticipate that farmers who make the investment in Roundup RReady2Yield are getting more than just the benefits of this technology, they're gaining experience with the building block on which our platform of new soybean technologies will be built." The company also stated that it would move aggressively to obtain regulatory approvals in key export markets around the world with 22 regulatory submissions already made in 15 countries, including Japan, China and the European Union. "We are working closely with the soybean industry to ensure that U.S. farmers have broad markets for Roundup RReady2Yield once we introduce this technology," added Fraley. The biotech giant recently announced "record" net sales of $2.6bn for its second quarter, 19 percent up from last year's figure. Net sales for the company's first half of fiscal year 2007 reached the "record-to-date" figure of $4.2bn, 15 percent up on last year. According to Monsanto, sales were driven by increased corn seed and traits revenues in the US, although increased sales in the current quarter were partially offset by lower soybean seed and traits revenues in the country, as the total number of soybean acres is expected to be reduced in favor of corn.