China, a major importer of U.S. corn grain and dried distillers grain solubles, has officially granted full regulatory import authorization for Monsanto Company’s (NYSE: MON) MON 87460 trait, the biotechnology trait in Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids, as part of a broader series of approvals. This represents a significant step forward for technology approvals in China. In 2012, more than 250 farmers in the Western Great Plains planted DroughtGard Hybrids on their farms as a part of Monsanto’s Ground Breakers® program.
In 2013, the product was introduced in the Western Great Plains under stewardship requirements. Farmers who purchased DroughtGard Hybrids for planting in 2013 signed a grain stewardship agreement committing to use the grain as on-farm feed or to sell the grain for domestic use due to pending import approvals in key export markets. With the approval in China, Monsanto will remove the grain stewardship requirements, and grain will no longer be required to remain in the domestic market. “The import approval of this trait is great news for U.S. farmers,” said Lisa Safarian, U.S. Row Crops Lead for Monsanto. “With full import approvals in key export markets, farmers can market their grain more broadly this year and plant with confidence in 2014.” Safarian added, “This approval also provides expanded access to another tool that can help farmers more sustainably manage their risk.”
The Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids system combines germplasm selected for its drought-tolerance characteristics, the drought-tolerance biotechnology trait and agronomic recommendations. The system is designed to help the corn plant use less water when drought stress occurs. This improved hydro-efficiency creates the opportunity to conserve soil moisture and can help reduce yield loss from drought conditions, while also maintaining top-end yield potential under normal, well watered conditions. Monsanto’s DEKALB® DroughtGard Hybrids have consistently shown about a five bushel per acre yield advantage over competitors’ products.
Farmers are looking forward to better protecting their yields in times of water stress. Eric Zell farms near Mitchell, South Dakota and participated in Monsanto’s DroughtGard Hybrids Ground Breakers trials last year. He says he’s looking forward to protecting his yields in times of water stress. “After coming off of a very dry last season our subsoil is somewhat limited, so I’m excited to see what the DroughtGard hybrids can do for me this year in my new planting for 2013.” Zell adds, “Now that I’ve seen some of these firsthand, and how they have worked for my farm, I think it’s going to be a great product going forward. DroughtGard has given me optimism for the future to know that I can better handle dry conditions.”
With a changing climate that leads to more challenging growing conditions, farmers are looking for more options to protect their yield and manage their risk. Drought tolerance is one component of Monsanto’s Yield and Stress efforts to protect or improve yield and achieve more consistency of returns. Yield and nitrogen utilization traits are also in Monsanto’s R&D pipeline. The drought tolerance trait in Genuity DroughtGard Hybrid’s represents the first commercial offering of the company’s joint R&D collaboration with BASF on yield and stress technologies.