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Innovation Helps Farmers Put Insect Refuge ‘In the Bag’


Last week, a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report on the Optimum® AcreMax™ 1 insect protection system that supported the first-ever corn rootworm integrated refuge in the bag.

BT corn hybrids are genetically modified to contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Many different strains of BT have been identified, each specific for a different group of insects. One group of Bt corn hybrids offers protection against corn rootworms.

The purpose of an insect refuge is to maintain the effectiveness of Bt crops by preventing or delaying insect resistance to Bt traits. A refuge provides a habitat that allows targeted insects to feed, mate and reproduce without being exposed to the trait. Without a refuge, insects exposed to Bt corn each growing season over multiple generations will eventually become resistant to Bt.

Integrated refuge in the bag is significant to farmers in the U.S. because it simplifies corn rootworm refuge deployment and guarantees compliance. Farmers must currently plant an in-field or adjacent 20 percent insect refuge of conventional or herbicide-tolerant seed to meet EPA refuge requirements when planting Bt traits. By integrating the refuge requirements into a single bag, Optimum® AcreMax™ 1 Insect Protection would reduce refuge acres, simplify refuge deployment and help preserve the highly effective Herculex® RW technology for growers.

Upon regulatory approval, DuPont will introduce the first and only integrated corn rootworm refuge product in the marketplace that will provide growers the opportunity to reduce rootworm refuge acres, which has many economic and environmental benefits, including:

* Increasing overall farm yields,
* Reducing pesticide use, and
* Ensuring the durability of important insect protection traits by guaranteeing 100 percent compliance with corn rootworm refuge requirements.

SAP review is one step in the EPA regulatory approval process. The SAP report is advisory in nature, focuses on specific technical questions posed to the panel by the EPA and does not represent a regulatory decision. The final regulatory decision will be made by the EPA later this year.

“Advancing science is a dynamic process. On the whole, we are pleased with the review by the panel and their endorsement of the innovative integrated approach to corn rootworm refuge,” said Paul E. Schickler, DuPont vice president and general manager and Pioneer president. “The Optimum® AcreMax™ concept represents tremendous economic and environmental value to farmers. We believe the full body of evidence now before the EPA strongly supports a 2009 registration of Optimum® AcreMax™ 1.”

Optimum® AcreMax™ 1 insect protection is one of many innovations in advanced plant genetics from DuPont on the horizon that will bring increased value to farmers. Today, the DuPont approach to science is making a big difference in the lives of agricultural producers and fueling significant growth in the marketplace.


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