Dow AgroSciences plans to launch a genetically altered soybean seed aimed as a direct assault on the dominance of global seed leader Monsanto. Dow recently submitted a regulatory package seeking U.S.-government approval for a glyphosate-tolerant soybean that the company says would be the “first-ever, three-gene” herbicide-tolerant soybean. The new soybean will be tolerant of a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide that combines glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D so farmers can spray the weed killer on fields without harming the crop.
Dow is dubbing the system “Enlist” and sees it as a replacement for Monsanto’s popular Roundup Ready system that accounts for over 90 per cent of U.S. soybean acreage and also has a foothold over the vast majority of corn planted in the U.S. Dow’s Enlist system combines glyphosate and two other herbicides in a way that Dow’s research has shown kills the weeds that no longer respond to glyphosate, while still knocking out those that do.
Dow AgroSciences has been quietly inviting farmers and seed companies to a “show farm” outside its headquarters at Indianapolis to demonstrate the results of comparative testing of Enlist versus Roundup.
Experts estimate glyphosate-resistant weeds have infested close to 11 million acres. It is common for weeds to develop resistance to herbicides. At least 130 types of weeds have developed levels of herbicide resistance in more than 40 U.S. states, more than found in any other country, according to weed scientists.
Enlist follows Dow AgroSciences’ launch in 2010 of SmartStax, an insect protection-trait and herbicide- resistance technology for corn, developed under a cross-licensing agreement between Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto.