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Optimum GAT delayed

LAST DECEMBER, Pioneer Hi-Bred announced the delay of its Optimum GAT technology in corn and in soybeans for two very different reasons, according to Jerry Harrington, sales and marketing public relations manager for the company.

He says Pioneer delayed the corn introduction based on the evaluation of comprehensive 2009 harvest results, which demonstrated excellent glyphosate and acetolactate synthase (ALS) herbicide tolerance, but showed that “the current version of the trait in corn does not meet Pioneer's high yield standards.”

A company news release states, “Pioneer will intensify its ongoing research efforts along multiple pathways for the corn trait and work toward commercialization in the middle of the next decade.”

Pioneer also expects Optimum GAT soybeans to be delayed two to three years beyond their scheduled introduction, Harrington reports, “due to changes in regulatory policy in key import markets and increasing complexity in managing grain stewardship. Pioneer is aggressively pursuing these regulatory approvals and has already received regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada.”

Currently, Monsanto has 36% of the corn seed market in North America, compared to Pioneer's 32%. Pioneer is the U.S. soybean leader with 26% market share.

Analyst Chris Shaw of Ticonderoga Securities reports, “Looking longer-term, we believe that without as many new traits to offer, DuPont may continue to be forced to compete on price. This strategy could lead to lower-average selling prices realized by all players. Additionally, with this new delay, DuPont's recent licensing of Dow Chemical's DHT herbicide-resistant trait could now receive greater focus as a new product in soybeans for DuPont.”

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