Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on

Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives





September 7, 2006


Dr. Borlaug's Wheat in the First world; French Protesters; Future Crops Technology; Roundup-Ready alfalfa


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org: September 7, 2006

* Dr. Borlaug's Wheat in the First world
* French Protesters Attempt to Destroy Genetically Modified Corn
* A glimpse at Monsanto's future crops technology
* Bt technology, insecticides evaluated for rootworm control
* Roundup ready technology available in alfalfa
* Genetic engineering: Scrutinize, don't demonize
* What will second generation Bt cotton contribute?
* Cotton acreage in Indian M’rashtra state upgraded to 3 m hectare

Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2006 02:50:52 -0500
From: "Gordon Couger"
Subject: Dr. Borlaug's Wheat in the First world

I don't have to look a half a world away to find someone Norman Borlaug helped, I can look across the table at my wife, in the mirror at myself and at anyone in my family and most of my neighbors at home. The third world was not the only winner from Dr. Borlaug's Work. It pretty well put me and my brother though college. Early in the 60's dad bought 5 bushels of TAM 101 and planted on 20 acres for seed. We had been watching the yield and forage production as it was developed across the river at Texas A&M's Experiment Stations and we got some of Texas A&M's first short wheat as soon as we could.

It responded to the warm open winters and cheap nitrogen fertilizer by producing enough forage to put on 700 to 2,000 pounds live beef to the acre over the winter and spring. Even at 30 cents a pound for cattle it was $200 to as much a $600 1960 dollars to the acre. I'd like to make that today for the same investment. Before TAM 101 we were getting $50 or $60 bucks an acre form Early Triumph because we couldn't put out the amount of nitrogen the wheat needed to make wheat without the straw growing 6 feet tall and going down in a mess, let alone add on more for pasture. There were other wheat that would do better but they wouldn't come up until the ground was a lot cooler. Of course we planted a mix of several varieties. But nothing made pasture early like TAM 101.

TAM 101's 30 bushels to the acre was about 12% increase in yield but it still made 30 Bu/ac with 50% hail damage early in the spring when the fields around it with the tall Early Triumph were hailed completely out. Not only was the straw shorter so it was lot smaller target, but a lot of the stalks that the insurance adjuster counted as destroyed recovered and made wheat. It was kind of hard to harvest but it made its 30 bu/ac.

TAM 101's willingness to spout in warm weather, need for very little cold weather to trigger tillering in the spring and its forage have kept it alive in the market for over 40 years competing with wheats that have half and again the yield potential.

I would usually have had my first field or two of TAM 101 in the ground for 2 or 3 weeks by now. I would have just dusted it in late in August so the fist rains of fall would bring it up and firmly root down so I could start putting calves on the first week in October.

I used wheat from Norman Borlaug's work to put beef on the table for the better part of 30 years, and I expect they are still using it or a descendant of Norman Borlaug's wheat on the ranch in north Texas today. I bet they have some they are waiting to see if it got enough rain to make it up and live right now and will be planting more as soon as it gets dry enough.

Gordon Couger


French Protesters Attempt to Destroy Genetically Modified Corn

- outsidethebeltway.com, By Alex Knapp, September 6, 2006

Hundreds of French protesters tried to show how ignorant they are of science and ecology by trying to destroy a field of genetically modified corn.

It goes without saying that they were unsuccessful; the concept of fire likely goes over their heads.

Of course, anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about the history of agriculture knows how deceiving the phrase “genetically modified maize” is. That’s because, of course, all maize (or corn, or whatever you want to call it) currently existing for food production today is genetically modified. Maize is the product of centuries of selective breeding on the part of indigenous Americans. There’s nothing “natural” about it.

On a chemical level, what agricultural scientists do in the lab when they genetically modify food crops is no different from the selective breeding that farmers practiced for century. The only difference is that today, breeding is faster, more efficient, and it is now easier to create crops for the specific purposes desired. The outcry against genetic modification of foods in Europe (and in the U.S.) has a lot more to do with sheer ignorance than any real concern over the health and safety of food products.

Obviously, not all genetically modified foods are going to be great. It may even be that errors in the planning stages could lead to dangers. But these are risks, and they can be managed. So long as there are tests and controls, genetic modification is far less dangerous than most risks that human beings take every single day. Especially where food is concerned. After all, it’s pretty conclusive that a Vegan diet poses far more risks to health than diets that include meat, yet Veganism is marketed as being “healthy” and “natural.”

Clearly, some education about the food we eat is needed. There is no evidence demonstrating that genetically modified foods are, as a class, any more dangerous than the conventional foods already out there. Quite the contrary, in fact.


A glimpse at Monsanto's future crops technology

- AGRICULTURE ONLINE, By Gil Gullickson, 05 Sep 2006

"What the heck do they have in there?" I asked myself as I eyed a walled enclosure laced with three strands of barbed wire to the west of the Monsanto tent at the Farm Progress Show.

Fortunately, it was worth the stop I made when Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto, showed what was behind those walls. He hosted a walking tour that featured 25 plots highlighting the technology Monsanto will offer to farmers in the next few years.

"This is just the beginning of what will be a remarkable time for agriculture," says Fraley.

Highlights of the tour included:

- Mavera high-value corn with lysine. This product combines a triple stack of resistance to corn rootworm, European corn borer, and Roundup with a high lysine trait.

Benefits include reduced feed costs and total energy in animal feed and a built-in lysine supplement. Renessen, a joint venture between Cargill and Monsanto, developed it.

A limited launch without the lysine trait will be on 30,000 acres in Iowa and Illinois in 2007. In 2008, the triple stack with the lysine trait will be launched in Illinois and Iowa.

- YieldGard VT. This is an update of Monsanto's YieldGard technology that controls European corn borer and corn rootworm through resistant corn hybrids.

The VT component stands for VecTran technology, which combines multiple genes in a single gene insertion site. This results in a cleaner and more natural transformation process, says John Goette, a Monsanto corn technology team member. The VecTran technology also improves the system_s promoter, which is the genetic switch that keys the gene insertion, says Goette.

"It also increases insect control and gives higher yield potential," adds Goette. He adds it will enable products to be brought to market sooner. One version of this product is YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2. This version uses VecTran technology in a double stack of second generation YieldGard Rootworm with Roundup Ready technology. YieldGard VT Triple Pro builds upon the second-generation YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 stack with a YieldGard Corn Borer. It also offers a dual mode of action that will enhance durability and insect resistance management, say Monsanto officials.

Both products are targeted for a limited introduction in 2007.

- Drought tolerant corn. Drought-tolerant corn doesn't mean Death Valley will become the new Corn Belt. However, yields will be significantly higher under drought than those of today_s hybrids. Monsanto scientists say increased yields of 9% to 14% with the company's best-performing event compared to conventional ones under drought stress have occurred across three seasons.

- Vistive low-linolenic soybeans. These soybeans tap a market for healthier foods. Low-linolenic soybeans can reduce or eliminate transfatty acids in foods by replacing hydrogenated oils. Transfatty acids have been linked to obesity and heart disease.

Monsanto in increasing Vistive soybean production with growers as demand grows. "There were 100,000 acres planted in 2005, 500,000 in 2006, and there will be between 1 to 2 million acres planted in 2007," says Fraley.

- Omega-3 soybeans. Monsanto is incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into soybeans. The darling of dieticians, omega-3 fatty acids are a heart-healthy food component typically associated with fish oil. Fraley says 25-30% of the oil contained in Monsanto_s omega-3 soybeans are functioning omega-3 fatty acids.

"The food industry is excited," Fraley says. "It hasn't had a chance to incorporate omega-3 in food like this before." He adds the oil extracted from the omega-3 soybeans doesn't have a fishy taste and works well in salad dressings.

"The reason food producers like it is because it's stable," he says. "Because it's a vegetable oil, it doesn't break down. And they yield 60 to 70 bushels an acre under Iowa conditions."

Monsanto officials say omega-3 soybeans are four to six years away from a full commercial launch.

- Mavera high value soybeans. These protein-packed varieties aim at yielding 5% more protein compared to conventional varieties when processed into soybean meal. This is another product developed by Monsanto's Renessen joint venture with Cargill. These soybeans also have an oil content and grain yield equivalent to comparable commodity soybeans.

Monsanto officials say these soybeans provide a new market opportunity for U.S. farmers to supply Chinese poultry and swine markets. These soybeans are four to six years away from a full commercial launch.

- Dicamba tolerant soybeans. The tour had a graphic comparison of the end result of dicamba tolerant soybeans. Soybeans with no dicamba tolerance were shredded by a dicamba application. Meanwhile, dicamba-tolerant soybeans were vibrant and healthy. Dicamba, a common component of weed control in corn, will also be able to be used in soybeans when these soybeans are marketed to farmers sometime after the turn of the next decade.

- Roundup RReady2Yield soybeans. Slated for a commercial launch in 2009, these soybeans have up to a 5-bushel per acre yield advantage compared to first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans in similar elite germplasm.

http://www.agriculture.com/ag/story.jhtml;jsessionid=2BPTNZOVRL1Z5QF IBQNSBHQ?storyid=/templatedata/ag/story/data/1157561277730.xml&catref=ag1001

Bt technology, insecticides evaluated for rootworm control

- AGRICULTURE ONLINE, By Bruce Eisley, Ron Hammond, Peter Thomison, 6/9/2006

How do current Bt technology and insecticide options stack up against rootworm larvae?

To answer this question, trials were conducted in 2006 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Western Agricultural Research Station near South Charleston, Ohio.

The evaluation trials were planted in an area that was planted to corn in late May and early June 2005. In late July 2006, plants were randomly dug from each of the treatments, the soil washed from the root systems and the roots evaluated for rootworm injury using the 0-3 Node Injury Scale.

When using the 0-3 scale, 0.00 means no damage to the root system, 1.00 equals one node (or the equivalent of one node) removed from the root system, 2.00 means two nodes or the equivalent removed from the root system and 3.00 represents three nodes or the equivalent removed from the root system.

One trial had 10 insecticides (including granules, liquids and seed treatments) and a YieldGard Rootworm hybrid (Dekalb DKC61-68) that were evaluated for their ability to control rootworm larvae. The insecticides were applied to Dekalb DKC61-72, an isoline of Dekalb DKC61-68. Rootworm injury was very heavy in this trial with the untreated averaging 1.81 on the 0 to 3 scale.

All of the treatments in the YGRW trial had significantly less rootworm injury as compared to the untreated check. Click here for full information about this trial. Counts of lodged plants and yields will be made from this trial later this fall.

Another trial was conducted to evaluate Herculex rootworm technology. In this trial, two Herculex hybrids containing the Bt-rootworm trait Mycogen 2G777 (HxRW) and Mycogen 2P788 (HxXTRA) were compared to a hybrid without this trait, Mycogen 2784, for their ability to control rootworm larvae. Insecticides were not evaluated in this trial. Rootworm injury was also very heavy in this trial with the untreated averaging 1.89 on the 0 to 3 scale.

The two Herculex hybrids had significantly less rootworm larval injury as compared to the untreated check. Click here for complete information on this trial. The number of lodged plants also will be counted later in this trial.

In a third evaluation, effects of seeding rate and early season defoliation on the performance of hybrids with and without Bt rootworm resistance were investigated. Three Bt rootworm resistant hybrids (two Yieldgard hybrids and one Herculex hybrid) and their conventional isolines (non-rootworm resistant hybrid counterparts) were planted at four seeding rates targeting populations of 24,000, 30,000, 36,000, and 42,000 plants per acre. Plants were defoliated at the 4- to 5-leaf collar stage (V4-V5).

The Herculex and YieldGard hybrids exhibited significantly less rootworm larval injury than the conventional isolines. On the 0 to 3 scale, rootworm injury for the three Bt rootworm hybrids ranged from 0.07 to 0.55, versus 1.01 to 1.81 in the conventional isolines.

Root lodging associated with rootworm injury was significantly greater in the conventional isolines and was more pronounced at high plant populations. Root lodging was less evident in the defoliated corn. However, only one of the conventional isolines showed root lodging exceeding 10%.

Roundup ready technology available in alfalfa

- AGRINEWS, By Whitney Cole, 06 Sep 2006

Indianapolis - It was a simple case of supply and demand. Last season, Roundup Ready alfalfa sold out of supply and farmers that had hoped to seed it were out of luck.

This year, however, is different. Monsanto beefed up production of Roundup Ready alfalfa so that everyone interested could try it.

"We sold out of supply last year, so demand is very high," said Chris Peterson, Roundup Ready alfalfa marketing manager.

"Growers are satisfied with stand establishment, weed control, crop safety and flexibility."

Peterson said Monsanto had over 150,000 acres seeded in the fall of 2005 and spring 2006.

"We project that we should be able to double that in this next planting season. It is also available from 25 seed companies, it is broadly licensed," he added.

Beginning in 1997, Monsanto formed a partnership with Forage Genetics and produced the first transgenic Roundup Ready alfalfa plants in 1998. The same technology that is utilized in other Roundup Ready crops.

Roundup Ready alfalfa was deregulated in the United States last summer, "so we have about a full year under our belt from the commercial sales perspective," Peterson said.

Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties are available in dormancies of three through nine adapted to conditions across the country. "And with the 25 major alfalfa seed companies licensed with the technology, growers should be able to find their favorite brand of seed with Roundup Ready alfalfa," Peterson said.

Roundup Ready alfalfa is geared toward dairy producers who could benefit the most from a higher-quality alfalfa stand. "One of the key components to a successful stand establishment is removal of early weeds," Peterson said.

"Also with early removal of weeds, in the alfalfa stand allows the grower to realize more quality. Weeds removed out of an alfalfa hay field means more pure alfalfa which means more quality and to a dairy producer and that should mean more milk," he said.

With most dairy operations looking for a high-quality alfalfa, Roundup Ready alfalfa is a favorable option. "Roundup Ready alfalfa is a flexible system and growers keep looking at ways to make the system work for them," Peterson said.

To prevent potential resistance, spraying on time, spraying early and keeping a routine cutting schedule that doesn't give weeds the chance to go to seed are the best management practices to focus on, according to Monsanto.

In the first year of production, growers could realize upwards to a half a of ton yield advantage, which would "pay for the technology," Peterson said.

"We feel the return on investment for growers is a good value," he added.

"Roundup Ready alfalfa enables grower success, as it relates to alfalfa production, the Roundup Ready alfalfa system is easy and growers should realize more


Genetic engineering: Scrutinize, don't demonize

- 20 MINUTEN, Translated by Andrew Apel, 5 September 2006

Swiss farmers want to know more about the benefits and risks of genetic engineering in agriculture. Now that citizens have voted in favor of a moratorium on genetic engineering, farmers are demanding that the time be used to conduct comprehensive research projects.

As association president Hansjörg Walter stated to the media, Swiss agriculture has a substantial interest in studying genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The farmer's association supported the initiative [to keep Swiss agriculture GMO-free], but always stressed that research should not be restricted. "By the time the moratorium ends, we want to know more, so that we in agriculture can decide if we want to remain GM-free producers, or if we can say 'Yes' to genetic engineering," Walter said in a prepared statement.

According to the farmers' association, the state is principally responsible for making the fundamental decisions regarding the risks and consequences of utilizing GMOs. It must be clarified, for example, whether genetically modified plants actually represent no danger for producers, and whether they can be fed to animals without cause for concern. In addition, Walter would like to see more exact clarification of the possibilities of genetic engineering in agriculture. Research should identify which genetically modified plants could simplify production for local farmers. In this context, mention is often made of rot-resistant potatoes, or apples without scab or mildew.

Walter concluded by questioning the coexistence of conventional and genetically modified crops. It must be clarified how much this coexistence would cost. If coexistence is only technically feasible, but disproportionately expensive, agriculture could not bear the cost of producing GMO crops.

Research institute Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon is backing studies by the farmers' association. With a decade of experience in the field, Agroscope will help ensure that by the end of the moratorium, in little more than four years from now, agriculture and society will know more about the potentials and risks of agricultural biotechnology.


What will second generation Bt cotton contribute?

- DELTA FARM PRESS, By Elton Robinson, 01 Sep 2006

Cotton producers who plant second generation Bt cottons like Bollgard II, WideStrike and VipCot may not spray less or yield more cotton in the short term. But they should see improved control of worm pests and will have set the bar for resistance management at a very high level.

Two new, two-gene products - Bollgard II, which has been in cotton fields since 2003, and WideStrike, which has been commercially available since 2005 - have the gene that expresses the Cry1Ac protein. Bollgard II's second protein is Cry2Ab; WideStrike has Cry1f.

A third product, VipCot, the result of a cooperative effort between Syngenta and Delta Pine Land Co., is not yet commercially available.

The new technologies have improved the spectrum of worm control, according to Stewart. "There are also some subtle differences in these technologies. It's not going to show up in most environments, most years. But when you have a big bollworm year or a big fall armyworm year you might be able to tease apart the technology."

As with Bollgard, WideStrike and Bollgard II will provide great control of tobacco budworm, according to Stewart.

"Original Bollgard was fair on bollworm and less than that on some other pests, like fall armyworm. "Bollgard II is excellent on bollworm. We think WideStrike is somewhere between the two based on all the data we've collected.

"But the big thing that the additional gene will bring, hopefully, is to prevent resistance from developing to these technologies as quickly. The idea is that if you have one gene, that's good, but resistance can develop. If you have two genes and the mode of action is different enough, it's unlikely that any one insect will be resistant to both at the same time.

"The newer technologies also have a large advantage over original Bollgard for fall armyworm and loopers. That's where you're going to really see improvement. With fall armyworm, we think WideStrike might be a bit better than Bollgard II.

"If I were to choose a Bt technology based on the pure efficacy of that product for west Tennessee, I would probably pick Bollgard II because we think it's a little better on bollworms than the WideStrike technology and that is the primary pest in this environment.

"If I were in another environment where I had a lot of fall armyworms or a mixture of fall armyworms and bollworms, it may be a tougher decision.

"The reality of the situation is that even original Bollgard is pretty good most of the time. And growers are probably going to choose technology by what variety they want to grow."

Stewart noted that there is still a refuge requirement for the second generation of Bt cotton - planting some amount of Bt cotton and managing it according to specific guidelines. But there is a proposal to go to a so-called natural refuge for Bollgard II.

"Essentially Monsanto is trying to convince EPA that the technology is good enough and there are enough other sources of tobacco budworm and bollworm in the environment that we don't need the structured, non-Bt cotton refuge in Bollgard II. They've made a good case, so we'll see what the EPA decides."

Walt Mullins, Monsanto's technical manager for Bollgard and Bollgard II, hopes a decision will come from EPA in late September, "but certainly enough in time for growers to know something before the 2007 season."

Mullins said that two-gene products like Bollgard II have significantly improved inherent resistance management potential in Bt cotton, one reason why original Bollgard technology, which contains a single gene, will be available only through the 2009 season.

"In Australia, they have already outlawed the use of a single gene product because of their concern for resistance management.

"We know that it will take a while to get the Bollgard II varieties up to the performance level we need. We've made great strides and by 2009, we should be there."


Cotton acreage in Indian M’rashtra state upgraded to 3 m hectare

- The Financial Express, September 07, 2006

Cotton acreage in Maharashtra for 2006-07 (October-September) has been revised upward by 20% to 3.07 million hectares, with around 1.8 million hectares under Bt variety, a state government official told Crisil MarketWire on Wednesday. The crop estimate has also been revised upwards in proportion to increase in sowing, he said.

“There is an upward revision in output estimate to 7 milLion bales from 6-6.5 milLion bales estimated earlier,” said HR Kale, general manager, Maharashtra State Co-operative Cotton Growers’ Marketing Federation Ltd. The figures were revised at a meeting held in August, he added.

The federation, in July, had estimated the state’s cotton acreage at 2.5 milLion hectares, slightly below 2.6 milLion hectares a year ago. However, output was earlier estimated at 6-6.5 milLion bales, up 30% from 5 milLion bales in 2005-06. The current estimate shows that the total output is likely to be 40% higher compared with actual production of 5 milLion bales in 2005-06.

“The area under Bt cotton has been revised to 1.8 milLion hectares from 1.5 milLion hectares estimated earlier,” Kale said. Maharashtra is the second largest cotton producing state in India. As the current season is coming to an end, cotton prices are very high. However, the prices will come down when new crop starts coming into the market, according to sources.

Kale said the federation is expected to procure around 1.7 milLion bales of cotton in the coming season (Oct-Sep) at the minimum support price(MSP). The current MSP declared by government is Rs 1,980 per 100 kg and is likely to be revised to Rs 1,980 per 100 kg very soon, he said.

“Prices of good quality cotton are not likely to fall below Rs 2,100-2,200 per 100 kg in the next season due to strong demand in the international market, especially China,” Kale said.