by BETTER FARMING STAFF
The announcement of a cross-licensing agreement between two agro-chemical giants does not appear to have made an impact on their shareholders — yet, a spokesperson says. But he predicts it will make a big difference to famers.
According to a news release issued by Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Thursday, the agreement licenses Dow’s Enlist corn herbicide tolerant trait to Monsanto. In turn, Monsanto will license to Dow its third generation corn rootworm technology when it is ready later this decade.
Both companies will be able to sell hybrids that contain these traits under their shared SmartStax corn seed technology brand. The trademarked engineered corn contains several different genetically engineered traits that combat pest and weed pressures. In Canada, that seed will be available from Dow’s Mycogen Seeds and Hyland Seeds brands and Monsanto’s DeKalb brand.
“We think that clearly SmartStax represents the broadest technology trait platform for weed and insect control in the industry; it is becoming the industry standard,” says Garry Hamlin, Dow AgroSciences’ spokesperson based in Indianapolis.
Growers will “have access to this technology in the corn that they want to plant and that works for them and their locality,” Hamlin says. “It also ensures, from the standpoint of Dow AgroSciences, that we get the trait broadly out into the marketplace and accessible to growers who need it now.”
The day of single trait crops “is over,” Hamlin says. Farmers recognize “that they need new technologies with multiple modes of action and from companies that are committed to stewarding the products. We sort of anticipated potential problems with resistance years ago when we provided our customers with SmartStax to help them stay ahead of the resistance curve.”
Hamlin describes Enlist as an engineered trait that provides resistance to the herbicide 2,4-D and the FOP class of grass herbicides. The company has developed a new form of 2,4-D that it touts as less volatile and having less potential to drift than its predecessors.
“Essentially, the herbicide stays where you put it,” says Jeff Loessin, marketing leader for Enlist Weed Control System in Canada. The corn and soybean traits already have federal regulatory approval in Canada. The company is waiting for regulatory approval of the accompanying herbicide, a mix of the new type of 2,4-D and glyphosate.
Registration is anticipated this year, and the company is planning to launch the spray and corn seed with the resistant trait in Canada in the fall of 2013. Initially, it will be available for heat zones found in Ontario and Quebec. Lower heat unit varieties will be available in about two years, Loessin says.
That technology will come with a seed treatment, which will be announced closer to the launch of the new product.
Farmers will have to wait longer for the addition of Monsanto’s third generation corn rootworm technology. Sara Miller, a spokesperson for Monsanto, says in an email the trait is still in research and development. Launch of a product “is therefore still several years away — near the end of the decade,” she writes.
Loessin says federal guidelines prevent the company from releasing pricing details for the new Enlist package until it obtains full federal registration. “It’s going to have to be competitively priced,” he says, “you can expect that it’s going to have to represent the value that it delivers with its multi-level mode of action weed control.” BF