Patience Is a Virtue in Technology Development

From Cotton Grower Magazine – June 2014

 

There’s no denying it. Technological advances in seed traits and chemistries have done wonders for production agriculture over the last two decades.

It was only 20 years ago, in 1994, that the first genetically modified crop was commercialized. Since that time the concept has been rapidly adopted, becoming the preferred method of production agriculture in the United States. The end result has been significantly improved yield across the board.

But that doesn’t mean the process of bringing forth a new piece of trait technology is any easier today than it was 20 years ago. In fact, if a new trait were conceived and invented today, representatives at leading trait development companies say it would be at least another decade before farmers could see the product sold commercially. Often, half of those years are spent testing genetic traits in-house, before they are ever submitted for review to agencies like USDA and EPA.

“Initial work is done in our Discovery Groups – phase one and phase two. That takes approximately five years,” says Marianne Malven, Monsanto’s molecular characterization team lead in the regulatory group. “And then regulatory analysis and submissions are averaging approximately six years. So yes, it takes quite a while. And I think 10 years is probably a conservative time frame.”

Through the years, Malven has been heavily involved in product testing and regulation management at Monsanto – most recently with XtendFlex technology. In cotton, the product will be featured in varieties which are tolerant to dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate. She says her company leaves no stone unturned when testing trait products in-house.

“We’re looking at the gene and the protein,” Malven says. “We’re looking for efficacy, we’re looking for safety. We’re making sure that there is a history of being exposed to this gene or protein previously. It’s making sure that the event that goes on for further testing is going to be safe.”

As of press time, XtendFlex was under review of a USDA environmental impact statement, although company representatives say they expect to receive approval to commercialize the product in time for the 2015 production season.

USDA won’t be the only regulatory organization Monsanto must satisfy with the company’s new technology. Key U.S. trade partners are granted authority to regulate products that may ultimately be consumed within their own borders. This is how American consumers occasionally hear of agriculturally-specific products being held up by regulators in, for instance, Japan.

“For cotton, the critical import countries are Mexico, Canada, Japan and others,” Malven says. “We still make submissions to all countries that have functioning regulatory processes in place. It’s just that we must have approval from those critical import countries before we can launch.”

To ease the regulatory process, companies like Monsanto have on-site staff to handle regulatory requests within the borders of the critical import countries. Oftentimes, these foreign regulatory processes are going on simultaneously with USDA and EPA regulatory reviews.

Recently, researchers like Malven have begun advocating for a uniform set of regulatory requirements from each of the foreign agencies from which they seek approval. The process of satisfying multiple, differing sets of requirement regulations can take a significant toll on time and resources, they say. Genetic researchers know that standardizing international regulations could take some time, however.

“We are speaking with different country regulators to about standardization of regulations across countries,” Malven says. “I don’t know if it will happen, but it would benefit farmers.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Disease Control / Nematodes

Solving the Nematode Puzzle

August 27, 2015

Growers and consultants in Georgia are finding ways to help boost yields and profits in nematode-infested fields.

Weed Control

Cover Crop Considerations for This Fall

August 26, 2015

Growers should plan now for fall cover crops to help improve control of herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth in next year's row crops.

Insect Control

New Webcast Focuses on Lygus Management in Texas High Plains

August 17, 2015

A new webcast focusing on lygus management in the Texas High Plains cotton has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Insect Control

Plan Cotton Insect Strategies for Mid to Late Bloom

July 17, 2015

Scott Stewart, Tennessee Extension entomologist, offers several strategies to help manage plant bugs, stink bugs and bollworms during the blooming period.

Weed Control

Time to Clear Pigweeds from the Field

July 14, 2015

Now that most weed control treatments are ending, it’s time to look for ways to effectively hand weed and remove surviving pigweed plants from the field.

Seed Varieties

Charlie Cook Brings Quality to All-Tex, Dyna-Gro Variety Development

July 9, 2015

Charlie Cook has turned his cotton breeding “hobby” into high quality varieties for the Southwest.

Weed Control

Rains Create Texas-Sized Weed Challenges

June 30, 2015

Drought-busting rains in May have created a mixed bag for cotton – and weed control – across Texas.

Around The Gin
Product News

Falcon Adds Two New Automated Precision Soil Samplers

August 28, 2015

Falcon Soil Technology has added two new automated soil sampling systems to its product lineup.

Product News

HUMA GRO Adds New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulation for Crops

August 28, 2015

BORO-MAX, a new boron 10 percent liquid nutrient formulation, is now available from HUMA GRO.

Product News

On-Farm Research Helps Ease Grower Questions About Enlist System

July 31, 2015

Southern cotton and soybean growers who have worked with the Enlist Weed Control System in on-farm research plots are now sharing their experiences.

Product News

Nufarm Introduces Panther SC Herbicide

July 24, 2015

Nufarm is introducing Panther SC herbicide, a new broad-spectrum herbicide for use in cotton and other Southern row crops.

Product News

USDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait

July 23, 2015

The USDA has deregulated Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the United States.

Product News

Ratting Out Copper Theft

June 10, 2015

A simple alarm technology is helping to stop copper thieves who target irrigation systems.

Product News

EPA Approves New Premix for 2016 for Cotton, Soybean Weed Control

May 29, 2015

Cotton and soybean growers will have a new weed control option in 2016 with Warrant Ultra Herbicide, a premix of acetochlor and fomesafen.

Product News

Deltapine NPE Program Begins Eighth Year of On-Farm Variety Evaluation

April 28, 2015

Nearly 200 farmers will be part of the Deltapine New Product Evaluator program this year to help evaluate cotton variety candidates for the Deltapine Class of 16.

Latest News
Disease Control / Nematodes

Solving the Nematode Puzzle

August 27, 2015

Growers and consultants in Georgia are finding ways to help boost yields and profits in nematode-infested fields.

Weed Control

Cover Crop Considerations for This Fall

August 26, 2015

Growers should plan now for fall cover crops to help improve control of herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth in next year's row crops.

Insect Control

Wake-Up Call for Old World Bollworm

August 20, 2015

The Old World bollworm – an aggressive global pest – has apparently found its way to the U.S.

Insect Control

New Webcast Focuses on Lygus Management in Texas High Plains

August 17, 2015

A new webcast focusing on lygus management in the Texas High Plains cotton has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Weed Control

Rain-Fed Weeds in Cotton Need Mid-Season Control

August 7, 2015

The early season rainfall in Texas has caused high weed pressure in cotton throughout the state, especially in the Rolling Plains.

Insect Control

Plan Cotton Insect Strategies for Mid to Late Bloom

July 17, 2015

Scott Stewart, Tennessee Extension entomologist, offers several strategies to help manage plant bugs, stink bugs and bollworms during the blooming period.

Weed Control

Time to Clear Pigweeds from the Field

July 14, 2015

Now that most weed control treatments are ending, it’s time to look for ways to effectively hand weed and remove surviving pigweed plants from the field.

Seed Varieties

Charlie Cook Brings Quality to All-Tex, Dyna-Gro Variety Development

July 9, 2015

Charlie Cook has turned his cotton breeding “hobby” into high quality varieties for the Southwest.

Weed Control

Rains Create Texas-Sized Weed Challenges

June 30, 2015

Drought-busting rains in May have created a mixed bag for cotton – and weed control – across Texas.

Insect Control

NC State: Managing Plant Bugs in Cotton Presquare

June 10, 2015

An early wave of plant bugs is causing problems in young presquare cotton in North Carolina.

Seed Varieties

The Father of PhytoGen’s Phylosophy

June 8, 2015

After three decades in cotton breeding, PhytoGen’s Mustafa McPherson has left his mark on American cotton production.

Weed Control

Mixing Up the Right Solution for Weeds

June 2, 2015

Proper use of tankmixes – and maybe a sharp hoe – are musts for summer weed control.

Insect Control

Set Treatment Schedule for Plant Bugs

June 1, 2015

As young cotton matures, it’s time to take the offensive when dealing with plant bugs.

Insect Control

Evaluate Young Cotton for Thrips Damage

May 29, 2015

With good stands of young cotton emerging in most fields, it’s time to start watching for signs of thrips damage.

Weed Control

Cotton Injury from Post-Applied Residuals in Wet Conditions

May 28, 2015

Herbicide burn on cotton may be more likely in three-way post-applied applications, especially when soils are wet.