Monsanto says it promises to introduce a dozen new biotech and breeding traits over the next decade due to advancements in its soybean research pipeline.

“Global demand for soybeans is driving the need for farmers to increase yields, and we can meet that demand thanks to the significant investments Monsanto has made in soybean breeding and biotechnology and in improving agronomic practices," says Roy Fuchs, Monsanto’s global oilseeds technology lead.

Advances resulting from the company’s new product soybean pipeline support Monsanto’s goal of helping farmers double crop yields by 2030 to meet this growing world demand.  These innovations will be available only in varieties containing the company’s second-generation soybean trait technology — Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield.

“Farmers are asking for the combination of high-yielding offensive traits and protective defensive traits when it comes to soybeans,” says Calvin Treat, Monsanto global soybean breeding lead.

“Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait technology and advanced breeding techniques deliver the offensive punch, while traits like aphid-tolerance and Phytophthora root-rot resistance, discovered via breeding efforts, provide the defensive characteristics that protect yield."

Defensive Breeding Targets Key Plant Diseases and Insects

Monsanto’s breeding program, plans to bring new varieties to farmers each season that create breeding yield gains. For the future, the company also is focused on developing new, high-performing soybean varieties with improved resistance to key insects and diseases. 

Areas of concentration include:

• Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistance: Nearly all current Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean varieties contain resistance to the primary race (Race 3) of soybean cyst nematode, a pest that causes an estimated yield loss of 100 to 200 million bushels per year in the United States. Monsanto breeders continue to develop new soybean varieties that will contain traits targeting additional SCN races, with planned introductions in the next several years.

• Phytophthora root rot resistance: The majority of current varieties contain a single resistance gene to this disease, which is also a top soybean yield-robber. Breeding efforts are focused on multiple-gene combinations, now in the pre-launch phase, with resistance to 80 percent of the estimated 55 races identified. In 2011, early-phase varieties with this double-gene stack showed a 1.4 bushel-per-acre yield advantage over single-gene products.

• Soybean aphid resistance: A second-generation product will build on current Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield aphid-resistant varieties by stacking proprietary gene sources for more stable resistance. Aphid-resistant varieties targeted for a mid-decade launch have the potential to reduce costs associated with scouting and insecticide applications.

• Additional plant diseases: Breeders also continue to work on improved resistance to other important soybean plant diseases – including white mold, sudden death syndrome and charcoal rot. These disease pressures vary season to season, influenced to a large degree by weather and other environmental factors.  This season, Monsanto launched three new Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean varieties with the industry’s first resistance to Asian Soybean Rust for the southern United States.
Biotech Traits Build on Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield Success

The introduction of the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait in 2009 offered U.S. soybean farmers a step-change improvement in yield potential. Now, Monsanto scientists are pursuing other Genuity® biotech innovations in soybeans:

• Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System: Expected for introduction to soybean farmers in 2014, pending regulatory approval, this technology is being developed to offer more consistent, flexible control of weeds, especially tough-to-manage and glyphosate-resistant weeds.
The system includes a soybean trait technology – Roundup Ready 2 Xtend – which is designed to be the first to offer tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate. Monsanto is also developing a premix of dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, called Roundup® Xtend, that, once approved, is expected to be labeled for use as an over-the-top option for application during the growing season.
• Higher-yielding soybeans: This trait technology is designed to increase yield potential – beyond that already offered by the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait – through the insertion of a key yield gene. This trait is in phase 3 of the R&D pipeline.
• Vistive Gold and SDA soybeans: Now in pre-launch phase, Vistive Gold soybeans deliver a trans fat free and reduced saturated fat soybean oil, while also providing increased stability for food manufacturers’ frying and baking applications. SDA soybeans produce an oil that has similar flavor, shelf life and stability as commodity soybean oil, giving food companies the opportunity to use the SDA soybean oil as a plant-based sustainable source of omega-3 fatty acids.