Monsanto, Dow join forces for new GM corn

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Monsanto

Biotechnology companies Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have teamed
up to launch what they claim to be the industry's first eight-gene
stacked combination in corn, which the firms say will further
expand their presence in the GM market for the crop.

SmartStax, which is designed to be the "all-in-one"​ answer to yield protection from weed and insect threats, could be commercially available as early as the end of the decade, the companies said last week. "The combination of these trait technologies signals the start of the next generation of products with improved plant protection and yield increases for the farmer,"​ said Jerome Peribere, president and CEO of Dow AgroSciences. The new variety will incorporate eight different herbicide tolerance and insect-protection genes from both of the companies . The insect protection technologies include Dow AgroSciences' Herculex I and Herculex RW technologies, and Monsanto's YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 and YieldGard VT PRO technologies, as well as the two established weed control systems, Roundup Ready and Liberty Link. Every trait included in SmartStax to date is already either available commercially or in advanced stages of regulatory review, according to the companies. Monsanto and Dow said they will make regulatory submissions and expect their new variety will be commercially available in the US by the end of the decade. Initial proof of concept testing on SmartStax aimed at feasibility of trait integration and viability of enhanced performance has returned "on target"​ results, which will be used to prepare regulatory submissions. According to Monsanto, the product will represent an expanded business opportunity for its seed and traits business. "We believe this multi-stack will enhance the growth of our branded and licensed corn seed businesses and accelerate our penetration of the potential trait acreage opportunities,"​ said Carl Casale, executive vice president of strategy and operations for Monsanto. Dow's Peribere also said that the company expects the new agreement to accelerate its plans to build a leading seed and biotechnology platform. Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will cross-license, under royalty-bearing agreements, their respective above- and below-ground insect protection systems as well as the two weed control systems. Monsanto will represent SmartStax for both parties for joint third-party licensing. In addition, both parties said they will cross-license germplasm to their seed brands for a ten-year period under royalty-bearing agreements to create new hybrid combinations which would not otherwise exist. These brands include: Monsanto's national corn seed brand, Dekalb, and regional seed brands sold by American Seeds, Inc, as well as Dow AgroSciences' Mycogen corn seed brand. These agreements are expected to enable the companies' brands to develop new higher-yielding hybrid combinations. Both Monsanto and The Dow Chemical Company, parent company of Dow AgroSciences, have posted presentations on their websites to provide an overview of SmartStax.

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