Monsanto has received full U.S. regulatory clearance for the first biotech corn designed to control corn rootworm. The company announced in late February that both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cleared YieldGard Rootworm for use in corn hybrids for resistance to this insect. Licensing the technology to other seed companies means a number of corn hybrids containing this technology will be available for no-tilling this spring.
With USDA estimating corn rootworm losses of $1 billion annually, this new technology will provide growers with in-seed protection against these yield reducing bugs. The new technology allows the corn plant to naturally protect itself against the damaging Western and Northern corn rootworm larvae. Corn rootworms prune the roots of corn plants and interfere with water and nutrient uptake, which leads to stunted growth, delayed crop development and yield loss. Severe corn rootworm feeding can cause more damage, such as lodging that leads to costly yield losses and harvesting difficulties.
In on-farm trials with universities and growers, Monsanto has found more consistent control of corn rootworm, greater protection of corn plant roots and higher yields with YieldGard Rootworm corn hybrids.
In the interest of securing export markets for U.S. growers, Monsanto has pledged that it would not launch new biotech products without full food and feed regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Japan. Last year, Japanese regulatory authorities approved YieldGard rootworm corn for importation into this key export market. Monsanto is also seeking approval in Europe and…