Company Seeking Approval for Drought Resistant Produce
Fields of high rising corn with stalks stretched towards the sunlight could still be possible with little to no rain, according to a company who filed for U.S. regulatory approval for what could be the world’s first drought-tolerant corn.
Monsanto Co. said Wednesday agricultural companies worldwide are racing to roll out improved produce amid fears of global warming and the needs of a growing population.
Monsanto said it is working with German-based BASF on the project, it submitted its product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for regulatory clearance.
The two companies are together spending $1.5 billion to a venture aimed at developing higher-yielding crops and crops more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions, like drought, a problem that has been drying up food supplies in recent years.
“It’s been everybody’s dream to have a drought-tolerant crop,” said Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore.
Yet, the new research would not solve every food shortage problem.
Iowa, the largest U.S. corn-producing state, does not typically suffer severe drought. Last year, Iowa corn was destroyed with too much rain.
Monsanto said its first-generation drought-tolerant corn was in the final phase of development and should be launched early in the next decade.
“The advancement of our drought-tolerant corn product… is one of our most significant R&D milestones,” said Monsanto biotechnology spokesman Steve Padgette.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a unit of DuPont, has a drought-tolerant corn in field trials that it plans to bring to market in the 2010-2011 time frame, said spokesman Pat Arthur.
However, this type of corn is not genetically modified so it does not need regulatory approval, he said.
Monsanto is also developing higher-yielding genetically altered soybeans, insect-resistant corn products, and herbicide-tolerant cotton products.
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