New soybean technologies could redefine industry, says Monsanto

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soybean, Roundup, Linoleic acid, Monsanto

Biotechnology giant Monsanto has said it is on track with its
soybean research and development efforts following a new series of
results from its Southern Hemisphere field research program.

According to the firm, its portfolio of soybean technologies "has the potential to redefine the soybean industry in the next decade". ​ Technologies in the firm's R&D pipeline include its second-generation herbicide tolerant soybeans, Roundup RReady2Yield, and its Vistive III low linolenic soybeans. "We're seeing impressive results from the tests on all three of our high impact technologies (HIT), strong progress across our portfolio of breakthrough soybean technologies, and a quick start and great progress in the yield and stress projects associated with our BASF collaboration,"​ said Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer. The company's Southern Hemisphere field testing is designed to complement its primary field research in North America and help continue to advance key research programs, including its HIT projects. Projects in the HIT program are targeted for larger-acre commercial launches in high-yielding seed offerings. This approach is expected to enable more farmers to access new technologies in their early years of commercial launch. According to Monsanto, its Roundup RReady2Yield technology is one of the cornerstones in its soybean pipeline. The firm last week announced that the technology has received regulatory approval in the US and Canada, and expects the variety to be ready for commercialization in 2009. Monsanto said this is the first soybean trait technology developed in more than a decade and represents the future platform for its entire soybean portfolio. "Roundup RReady2Yield is certainly the centerpiece of our soybean pipeline," ​said Fraley. The variety claims to improve crop yields by 7 to 11 percent, compared to Roundup Ready soybeans. Like the first generation product, the new variety is designed to tolerate Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. Another technology being tested is the firm's Vistive III soybean, which is designed to lower linolenic acid and saturate content while boosting oleic content to give soybean oil a health profile similar to olive oil while maintaining the versatility and cost-effectiveness of soybeans for food applications. The firm said that results from 14 locations in Argentina showed that the lead event continues to meet the product composition targets for an oil profile of 55 to 75 percent oleic acid content and less than 7 percent saturate content. Additional testing confirmed the agronomic yield targets for the product concept, said the company. "With the traits in development today, soybeans are poised to emerge from the shadow of corn in terms of technology application,"​ said Fraley. In addition to projects in the emerging soybean R&D pipeline, the Southern Hemisphere testing provided results for other yield-and-stress projects, including drought-tolerant corn and higher-yielding canola. These projects are also part of the company's multi-year R&D collaboration with BASF that focuses on the development and commercialization of yield-and-stress technologies. Monsanto said the drought-tolerant corn technology delivered yield advantages of up to 12 bushels per acre in the Argentinean locations compared with controls. The firm is currently in the midst of its fifth season of field testing its lead drought-tolerant genes in the United States. In its first year of field testing the Phase II Higher-Yielding canola project, Monsanto said the technology showed a yield improvement of more than 15 percent over controls.

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