GENET archive


7-Business: Monsanto readies distribution of new GM corn in the Philippines

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Monsanto readies distribution of new GM corn
SOURCE: Sun Star, Philippines, by Allen V. Estabillo
DATE:   22 Aug 2005

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Monsanto readies distribution of new GM corn

SEED giant Monsanto Philippines will begin over the commercial
distribution here of a genetically-engineered corn variety that could
resist both the destructive Asiatic corn borer and herbicides used to
eliminate field weeds.

Francisco Camacho, Monsanto's technology development executive here, said
the "dekalb-stacked hybrid" has been approved for planting in the country
by the Bureau of Plant Industry.

"This hybrid essentially solves the problem of our farmers here about the
potential damage from the corn borer and weeds," Camacho said Thursday in
a Monsanto-sponsored radio program.

According to a report from the University of the Philippines Los Baņos-
based Biotechnology Information Center (BIC), the new hybrid corn seed is
practically a combination of the controversial Bacillus thuringiesis (Bt)
corn and the Roundup-Ready corn, which underwent several field tests here
and the neighboring areas.

Bt corn was approved for planting in the country in late 2002 while
Roundup Ready corn was introduced in the markets earlier this year.

"So called stacked-trait corn, the plant bears two introduced genes in
its genetic make-up. The first one called Bt gene (cry1ab) comes from a
common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.

"The second one, the EPSPS (5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase)
gene, isolated from CP4 strain of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, is a
naturally-occurring bacteria in the soils which enables the corn plant to
continuously produce essential aromatic amino acids even in the presence
of glyphosate, a non-selective herbicide," the BIC report said.

Camacho said the availability of the new product in the local markets is
very essential in combating the infestation of the corn borers and the
weeds that could potentially destroy 60 to 80 percent of a normal cropping.

"As we have also experienced here in Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan
Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) area, the infestation of the corn
borers and weeds reduces the quality of the corn as it encourages the
presence of fungus," he said.

He added that the use of the new corn variety would reduce the cost of
production, especially in terms of spraying pesticides and herbicides and
the payment for the laborious manual weeding.

Camacho said that with the opening of the product for commercial
distribution, he said they expect more farmers to adopt the various
biotechnology corn varieties.

Local Monsanto personnel earlier said that over 8,000 hectares of
farmlands have been planted with Bt corn in the Socsksargen area,
considered as the second biggest corn-producing region in the country.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Philippines approves planting of 4th biotech corn
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   3 Aug 2005

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Philippines approves planting of 4th biotech corn

MANILA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The Philippines, the first Asian country to
commercialise genetically modified corn, has approved the sale and
planting of the fourth biotech corn developed by U.S. agrochemical firm
Monsanto Co..

The fourth biotech corn -- called stacked-trait corn -- is resistant to
the Asiatic corn borer pest and tolerant to herbicides, a senior official
of state-regulator Bureau of Plant Industry, who declined to be named,
told Reuters.

"We now have four genetically-modified corn, three of them developed by
Monsanto and one by Syngenta," the official said.

Monsanto introduced the Philippines' first biotech corn in 2003.

Its BT corn contains the gene Bacillus Thuringiensis, which is resistant
to the Asiatic corn borer pest, the leading destroyer of corn crops in
the Philippines, causing losses of up to 80 percent in yields.

"Only the BT corn developed by Monsanto is being used by farmers now,"
the official said, adding the firm has yet to launch in the Philippines
its herbicide-resistant corn under the brand name Round-Up Ready corn.

The same official said Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta has yet to
promote its insect-resistant BT-11 corn strain in the Philippines.

Government officials have said that biotech corn, largely used for animal
feed, has been accepted by the domestic market despite opposition by some
environmental groups like Greenpeace.

Some 52,000 hectares were planted with BT corn last year, or two percent
of the total 2.5 million hectares planted to corn in the country.

The country imports corn and feed wheat each year as the domestic harvest
of corn is lower than demand.

The Philippines bought 540,000 tonnes of wheat and 10,000 tonnes of corn
for animal feed last year.

Imports of both corn and feed wheat are expected to be higher this year
because of damage from storms late last year and drought caused by El
Nino in the first half this year.

Philippine corn output rose 17 percent to 5.4 million tonnes last year
from 4.6 million in 2003.


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