The decision was announced by Monsanto, the company responsible for the development of YieldGard and YieldGard Plus corn, Bollgard and Roundup Ready cotton and a number of other genetically enhanced crops.
“Monsanto is pleased that the EPA has completed its review and registration of YieldGard Plus,” said Robb Fraley, chief technology officer of Monsanto. “This registration is great news for tens of thousands of U.S. farmers who are seeing the benefits of biotech products.
“YieldGard Plus corn is expected to provide numerous benefits to corn growers including improved yields, higher on-farm returns and reduced need for insecticides historically used to control these damaging insect pests.”
Because it contains a gene that kills the pests, YieldGard Plus corn allows the corn plant to protect itself against the damaging Western and Northern corn rootworm larvae and the European corn borer. Nicknamed the “billion-dollar bugs,” the corn rootworm and corn borer each are estimated to cost U.S. growers about $1 billion annually.
Following the necessary regulatory clearances on a state-level in the United States and receipt of Japanese import approval, the YieldGard Plus technology will be made available for planting in corn hybrids through Monsanto’s branded seed businesses – DEKALB and Asgrow – and licensed, independent seed companies.
Monsanto says all YieldGard Plus corn hybrids will be sold with a seed treatment to offer broad-spectrum control of secondary pests such as wireworm, white grub, early flea beetle and seed corn maggot.
Company representatives said they will also implement an insect resistance management program to delay the potential development of resistance by target pests. As part of its approval process, EPA requires that growers planting the technology follow an insect resistance management program.
The IRM plan for YieldGard Plus corn will be similar to those in use for other Bacillus thuringiensis products such as YieldGard Corn Borer corn and YieldGard Rootworm corn. For YieldGard Plus corn, EPA requires that growers plant a refuge with non-Bt corn.
In most corn growing areas, the refuge area must include at least 20 percent of the grower’s YieldGard Plus corn acres, but, in cotton growing areas, the corn borer refuge must be at least 50 percent of the YieldGard Plus corn acres.
YieldGard Plus hybrid growers may plant a common refuge for both corn borers and corn rootworms or they may plant separate refuge areas for the two pests.
Once commercialized, YieldGard Plus corn hybrids will be sold as part of Monsanto’s Market Choices program. This program identifies those technologies that are fully approved for food and feed use in the United States and Japan, but are currently lacking approval in the European Union.
Growers who plant Market Choices hybrids must “utilize appropriate markets for this grain, including feedlots, feed mills, on-farm feeding and grain handlers who agree to accept the grain,” according to Monsanto representatives. “Growers should contact their local seed dealers or grain handlers for more stewardship details.”