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2-Plants: New resistance management plan for Bt-maize in the US proposed



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TITLE:  Seed companies submit plan to keep Bt corn's punch
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   April 21, 1999

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Seed companies submit plan to keep Bt corn's punch

WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - A plan developed by U.S. corn industry leaders and major seed companies should prevent new genetically-modified corn varieties from losing their bug-killing punch, an industry aide said on Wednesday. The plan was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency this week by four major companies that sell Bt-corn technology: Monsanto Co., the second-largest U.S. seed producer; Mycogen Seeds/Dow Agrosciences, an alliance of two Dow Chemical Co. subsidiaries; Novartis Seeds Inc., a U.S. affiliate of Swiss drug maker Novartis AG and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., the largest U.S. seed producer. If approved quickly by the EPA, it could be implemented for the year 2000 growing season, Scott McFarland, a spokesman for the National Corn Growers Association said.

Bt corn contains genes derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, which allows the plant to produce a toxin that kills the European corn borer. To prevent those bugs from developing a resistance to Bt corn, the plan calls for farmers to plant conventional corn on a portion of their crop acreage. The idea is to encourage a diverse insect population, rather than one that gradually builds up a resistance to Bt corn through successive generations. "We want to keep the potential for resistance as low as possible," McFarland said. Under the plan, farmers in the Corn Belt and the northern portion of the corn/cotton region would have to plant a minimum of 20 percent of non-Bt corn on their acreage. In the southern portion of the corn/cotton region, the so-called non-Bt refuge would have to be 50 percent. The plan also requires farmers to plant non-Bt corn within one-half mile of Bt corn, and recommends that farmers plant the two types within one-quarter mile, if feasible. "We think it's a v!
!
ery solid plan," McFarland said. "We are optimistic about the EPA adopting it." But McFarland said he did not expect the plan to vastly change U.S. planting patterns, if approved. "We've not seen a lot of farmers planting 100 percent Bt corn," he said. Still, it could have a big impact in some parts of the country where Bt corn plantings have been heavier, he said.

A complete copy of the "Insect Resistance Management Plan for Bt Field Corn" can be found on the corn growers' Web site at http:/www.ncga.com.



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