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In the pipeline

The Syngenta seed pipeline includes a number of new products that should hit the market in the next two years. One is a new insect control event for corn, presently called MIR162, that offers a mode of action that is different from that of current cry-protein-based Bt events. MIR162 attaches at a different point in the insect mid-gut than other Bt proteins now on the market do.

The protein in MIR162 is referred to as a vegetative insecticidal protein (VIP), according to Wayne Fithian, business lead product manager for Syngenta. “VIPs are unique to Syngenta and offer a more complete spectrum of control for ear-feeding insects, which in turn reduces the risk of molds and mycotoxins,” he says. “We've submitted the full registration package to the EPA and expect to do some efficacy trials in the U.S. in '09. Though not currently available for sale, we anticipate having hybrids with the MIR162 event commercially available in '10, pending full regulatory approvals.”

The MIR162 event will not be sold as a single trait in the U.S., according to Fithian. “We'll stack the MIR162 event with our other Agrisure corn traits and both corn borer/glyphosate-tolerant and corn borer/corn rootworm/glyphosate-tolerant stacks will be available,” he says.

Aphid control

Soybean growers will soon find new seed products from Syngenta that offer better soybean aphid control. Gene Kassmeyer, head of the soybean product line, says that next year Syngenta will launch its Aphid Management System, which includes Cruiser Maxx treated soybean seed that has the Rag1 gene in it.

“It's an IPM [Integrated Pest Management] approach to aphid control that may reduce or eliminate the need to spray crops under most infestations,” Kassmeyer says. “The Rag1 gene is a naturally occurring trait, but its ability to control aphids by itself is dependent on insect pressure. Combined with Cruiser Maxx seed treatment, we can control aphids so there's less need to spray an insecticide, which allows beneficial insects to enhance the control. Growers may still need to use an insecticide under extreme conditions where there's an aphid population explosion.”

The Aphid Management System will be available to U.S. growers in 2010 in glyphosate-tolerant varieties in 1.5 to 3.0 maturities, according to Kassmeyer.

SCN resistance

SCN resistance will get a boost in Syngenta's varieties from a Peking source of resistance. “Peking has been around for awhile,” Kassmeyer says. “As the SCN biotype changes, it challenges us to be better. And with the current economics of corn and soybean production, some guys are thinking about growing more beans on beans in areas where that hasn't been done before. The Peking source gives us a multipronged approach to SCN control.”

Kassmeyer says soybean varieties with the Peking resistance should be available to growers next season.

Deeper in the pipeline are genetically modified varieties that could be as effective against SCN as genetically modified hybrids are today against corn borer and corn rootworm, Kassmeyer says. “I'm really excited about them, but they're quite a few years away at this point,” he says.

Also in 2009, Syngenta will introduce soybean varieties that have new races for Phytophthora root rot control. “Phytophthora has taken a bit of a back seat to glyphosate tolerance, SCN and sudden death syndrome,” Kassmeyer says. “But farmers still need to pay attention to it, particularly on heavy, clay-type soils. We're starting to see a biotype shift, and some of the races for resistance aren't working as good as they used to. The new races we're introducing will improve the tolerance of our varieties and should provide a broader spectrum of control.”

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