Approval sought for GM drought-tolerant corn

Monsanto Canada has handed in the regulatory paperwork to seek approval for what it bills as the world’s first biotech drought-tolerant corn.

The new corn, developed in partnership with BASF, has been submitted for approval to the “relevant Canadian agencies” as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Monsanto’s U.S. head office announced last week.

Regulatory submissions will follow in “key import markets” such as Japan, Mexico, and Korea over the next several months, the firm said.

The St. Louis, Mo.-based seed, ag chem and biotech firm had announced in January that its drought-tolerant corn had moved to the fourth and final phase before an anticipated market launch around 2012, pending regulatory approvals.

The corn product is “part of a family of drought-tolerant products Monsanto plans to bring to the market over the next several years,” the company said.

A “second-generation” drought-tolerant corn product, which is expected to have broad-acre application, is in Phase 2, consisting of lab and field testing of plant genes, the company added.

U.S. field trials for drought-tolerant corn last year in the Western Great Plains region “met or exceeded the six per cent to 10 per cent target yield enhancement,” or about seven to 10 bushels per acre over the average yield of 70-130 bu./ac. in some of the “key drought-prone areas” of the country, Monsanto said.

In any given year, 10 million to 13 million acres of farmland planted to corn in the U.S. may be affected by at least moderate drought, the company said.

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