DuPont closer to launch of new GM corn

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Roundup

DuPont has said it is on track to launch a new herbicide tolerant
biotech corn variety, which will come into direct competition with
Monsanto's popular Roundup Ready trait.

The agricultural firm yesterday announced that it has completed regulatory submissions for its Optimum GAT trait, bringing it closer to the 2010 commercial introduction of the variety. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are now set to review the submissions, followed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which is due to receive DuPont's submission later this year. The Optimum GAT trait, which is the first to be developed using DuPont's proprietary gene shuffling technology, will first be commercialized in soybeans. Pending regulatory approval, these are due to be introduced in 2009. The new biotech trait delivers tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate. DuPont said it will also allow farmers to increase yields, thereby contributing to supply security. This will help meet increased demand for soybeans and corn for both food and biofuels. According to USDA statistics, of the estimated 157 million acres of corn and soybeans planted in the US, 52 percent of corn acres and 91 percent of soybean acres are herbicide resistant. Currently, the herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn sold by DuPont carry the Roundup Ready trait licensed from biotech giant Monsanto. But when Optimum GAT is commercialized, DuPont said it will gradually retire its Roundup Ready varieties and replace them with Optimum GAT. "Almost all herbicide resistant soybean varieties currently carry the Roundup Ready gene. With the commercialization of Optimum GAT, we hope to capture some of the Roundup Ready market,"​ DuPont's communications director Doyle Karr told last year. But Monsanto said that around the same time as the launch of Optimum GAT, it will be introducing its second generation Roundup RReady2Yield technology, which is also designed to provide a yield advantage. However, the firm said it "welcomes the competition"​. Following the anticipated launches of Optimum GAT soybeans and corn respectively in 2009 and 2010, DuPont said it also expects to commercialize the trait in cotton and other crops. Optimum GAT will also be marketed by Swiss agribusiness Syngenta, under a licensing agreement set up between the two firms in April last year. Through their joint venture, GreenLeaf Genetics, the two companies will liscence the soybean trait to other seed firms in the US and Canada.

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