The firm said the approval for its second-generation soybean technology, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, represents "significant progress" towards commercialization. The use of GM soybeans may be the answer to secure high yields. Last year's soybean harvest yields were reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be down from the year before across most of the eastern and northern Corn Belt, most of the Atlantic Coast states, and Tennessee. The biggest declines from last year occurred in Kentucky and Tennessee. However, 2006 was deemed by USDA as a record high production for soybeans. Robert Fraley, chief technology and executive vice president at Monsanto, said: "Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans are poised to deliver a new yield advantage to U.S. farmers and pave the way for the development of stacked-trait offerings in this oilseed crop. "Importantly, this new soybean product is expected to offer farmers a novel way to get more yield out of a single acre of land, a critical step as farmers work to meet the growing food and fuel demands of our world." Last July, Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans successfully finished the regulatory process in both the United States and Canada. The product is currently under scientific review by the European Food Safety Authority as well as regulatory authorities in China and other markets. Monsanto said the second generation of roundup ready GM crop has shown an average of 7 to 11 percent increase on yield over four years of field comparisons with the first generation of GM crop. The firm said it is planning a controlled commercial release of Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans on 1 to 2 million acres in 2009. A spokesperson said: "Monsanto is working closely with the soybean industry to accomplish this controlled release, which will allow farmers in select geographies to experience the benefit of the product prior to the full launch." The company is planning a full-scale launch of 5 to 6 million acres in 2010. It added that these soybeans will serve as the primary platform for new soybean trait technologies, including higher yield, expanded herbicide tolerance and enhanced oil products over the next four years. While Montano has secured usage in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, approval in the EU may not be so easy. Currently the bloc has a moratorium on GM crops. Austria enforced a ban on the import and processing of Monsanto's MON810 and Bayer's T25 maize in June 1999. The Commission has been debating whether to force the country to lift its restrictions since 2005, as Austria has never produced the necessary scientific evidence to contest the positive assessment of the products by Europe's food safety authorities. At the moment, the only type of GM crop grown in the EU is maize, which was approved in 1998. It is not cultivated for human consumption but for animal feed.