GENET archive


Misc: DuPont executes investments to accelerate new seed product development

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, USA

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   27.02.2007

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Plan Expands R&D to Meet Demand for Better Genetics, Biotech Traits

WILMINGTON, Del., Feb. 27, 2007 - DuPont today announced it is executing its $100 million reinvestment plan to increase its speed-to-market for new seed products. The plan includes the addition of more than 400 positions, mainly in research and development in its wholly owned subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

”The global demand for agricultural crops is very strong,” said William S. Niebur, vice president – DuPont Crop Genetics Research & Development. ”We have the science to help farmers and others across the value chain meet the growing demand. This additional investment will allow us to put that science to work for our customers faster.”

The investment is the largest year-to-year increase in research in the 81-year history of the Pioneer business, a unit of the DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition platform. The platform is increasing support for seed and biotechnology research while continuing to drive a strong DuPont Crop Protection new product pipeline and Solae healthy food ingredients.

”DuPont continues to accelerate its pace of development of new and improved products, traits and enabling technologies,” said Niebur. ”We have the richest pipeline in our history. This investment will help us to increase our innovation even further. The new products that result will help farmers around the world improve their productivity and meet the growing demand for grain.”

As part of the DuPont reinvestment plan announced in December 2006 to increase investment in plant genetics, biotechnology and other high-value growth opportunities, the Pioneer business will be expanding R&D efforts at 67 of its 92 research centers worldwide. New positions will be filled by redeploying current employees from other DuPont businesses and outside hiring.

In preparation for this unprecedented launch of new products and technologies, DuPont is also adding positions to deliver more agronomic and sales support to customers and take advantage of new product lineups.

Today the DuPont crop genetics research and development pipeline includes traits and technologies that help increase harvestable yield, increase ethanol production per acre, protect plants from insects and disease, increase nitrogen utilization, provide resistance to drought, improve weed control, and produce oils that support the demand for healthier foods.

”The Optimum™ GAT™ trait is a new innovation in our pipeline,” said Niebur. ”The company is on track to launch the trait, which will give farmers improved weed control options, in soybeans in 2009 and corn in 2010.” Optimum™ GAT™ combines tolerance to glyphosate herbicides and ALS herbicides, including DuPont proprietary chemistry, to give farmers broader spectrum, longer lasting weed control.

In addition to traits, the increased investment in research will enhance the ability of DuPont to improve its genetics through enhanced molecular breeding techniques. For 2007, the Pioneer business has introduced 86 new corn hybrids in North America, of which 17 are from new genetic families and 16 are triple stacks. Pioneer has launched 20 new soybean varieties for 2007 planting in North America as well.

Pioneer is a business unit of the DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition platform, and is a subsidiary of DuPont, the world’s leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition provides access to advanced plant genetics, crop protection solutions and quality crop systems to customers in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation. 


                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Food Navigator, France

AUTHOR: Lorraine Heller


DATE:   14.02.2007

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14/02/2007 - A higher-yielding variety of genetically modified soybeans from Monsanto could be introduced commercially within the next few years, according to the leading biotechnology firm.

Monsanto’’s second generation Roundup RReady2Yield soybean is currently under review by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has called for public comments after receiving a petition for deregulation of the variety.

According to Monsanto’s petition, its new soybean – MON 89788 – can improve crop yields by 4 to 7 percent, compared to Roundup Ready soybeans.  Like the first generation product, the new variety is designed to tolerate Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. 

The firm said that 87 percent of US soybean fields and 60 percent of international soybean fields were planted with Roundup Ready soybeans in 2005.

In a statement issued last week, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said that after reviewing the scientific evidence, its preferred action is to deregulate – or approve – the soybean based on the determination that it is as safe as its traditionally bred counterparts.

The agency, which prepared a draft environmental assessment to determine whether deregulating the soybean could have a significant impact on the environment, said it will now consider public comments received by April 6.

If APHIS grants the petition for deregulation, the soybean and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles.  The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS.

If approval is granted, Monsanto said it expects the new soybean variety to be commercially introduced in 2009. The second generation product would then replace the original Roundup Ready soybean, which would be gradually phased out.

The firm also expects to apply its Roundup Rready2Yield technology to its Vistive low linolenic soybeans, Monsanto told

As part of its 2007 first quarter results announcement earlier this year, Monsanto said it has made ”remarkable” research and development advancements over the past year.  It highlighted seven specific projects, including moving its RounupRReady2Yield soybeans to Phase 4.

Other developments included its Vistive III soybeans, designed to have a similar oil profile to olive oil, meeting the company’s target composition profile on three of its genetic events.  In addition, High-Oil soybeans, a soybean project from Monsanto’s Renessen joint venture with Cargill, advanced to Phase 3 after the technology continued to demonstrate an oil yield advantage compared with

conventional checks.

Monsanto also said its Higher-Yielding corn advanced to Phase 2, with three of the company’s genetic events demonstrating a five percent to ten percent yield increase.  The firm’s first and second generation drought tolerant corn also continued to demonstrate good performance, it said.


                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: DesMoines Register, USA

AUTHOR: Philip Brasher


DATE:   04.03.2007

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Court decisions against USDA can hold up transgenetic approvals.

Washington, D.C. - A series of court decisions is calling into question the U.S. Agriculture Department’s regulation of genetically engineered crops.

Three rulings challenge the USDA’s handling of field trials and its process to approve the widespread cultivation of biotech crops. Depending on the government’s response, the cases could lead to a slowdown in commercialization of new transgenic varieties, experts say.

One possible outcome: USDA could be required to conduct environmental-impact studies before approving some crops. Studies can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to complete.

Biotech companies such as Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Monsanto Co. are using genetic engineering to make crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton resistant to insects and herbicides and better able to survive droughts. Companies also alter the genes of crops such as switchgrass that someday may be used to make ethanol.

Last August, a federal judge in Hawaii decided that USDA improperly allowed biotech companies to plant fields of corn and sugar cane that had been engineered to produce pharmaceutical products.

On Feb. 5, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that USDA allowed field tests of a biotech turfgrass without considering adequately the potential environmental damage if the herbicide-resistant grass spread beyond the research fields.

Then, a judge in San Francisco ruled USDA improperly approved the commercialization of herbicide-resistant alfalfa without doing an environmental-impact study. Among other things, the judge said, USDA should have looked at how organic alfalfa would be hurt if the crops were contaminated by pollen from biotech fields.

USDA ”is going to have to take a real hard look at all of those impacts, biodiversity impacts, impacts on endangered species and organic impacts,” said George Kimbrell, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety, a Washington-based advocacy group involved in bringing all three cases. ”It will slow things down.”

How much is the question.

USDA officials say they’re still studying the rulings, including whether the cases will be appealed.

The department has been working for more than three years on revisions to its regulations for biotech crops, a process that itself includes developing an environmental-impact statement. Officials say they expect to issue the proposed rules for public comment sometime this year.

”The court cases seem to be coming across some procedural things that need to be addressed,” said Mike Phillips, vice president of food and agriculture, science and regulatory policy for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents biotech giants such as Monsanto Co. of St. Louis and Pioneer Hi-Bred International of Des Moines.

A report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, another advocacy group, found that USDA already has been taking longer to review crops before deciding whether to approve them.

Before 2000, the approval process took an average of six months for each crop trait. From 2001 to 2005, the average exceeded 15 months.

The process will almost certainly take longer if USDA is required to do more environmental-impact studies, as compared to its relatively brief ”environmental assessments.”

In one sense, the alfalfa case is unusual. Alfalfa is a perennial, unlike corn, soybeans and cotton that are the most widely cultivated biotech crops. And alfalfa is pollinated by bees, which can spread its pollen for miles.

But some of the same complaints leveled against the genetically modified alfalfa have been made against other crops, including biotech corn. As with alfalfa, the potential for cross-pollination makes it hard to keep fields of conventional and organic corn free of biotech contamination.

The judge cited issues that he said merited an environmental-impact statement, including the possibility that the crop would ”degrade the human environment by eliminating a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered alfalfa and a consumer’s choice to consume such food.”

Requiring USDA to spend more time studying new biotech traits doesn’t mean the ultimate outcome will be any different, legal experts say.

But the point of genetic engineering is to speed up the development of new genetic traits. Get enough lawyers involved, and conventional breeding won’t look so slow anymore.




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