In the Field

I still remember the time when I joined the class field trip to General Santos to visit the three seed companies there – Monsanto Research, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences (DAS). The field trip was memorable because I learned a lot of things.

Monsanto Philippines are currently working on corn, cotton and soybean products. Monsanto uses cry1ab transgenes in their commercial fields. The company’s objective is to raise the genetic potential of the plant to fight yield suppressions such as corn borers, weeds, rootworms, etc. With these, Monsanto products are Bt hybrids with insect or weed control, or a combination of both (Yield Guard, Round-Up Ready, Mon810). The company’s plant breeders said that they were able to fight pests effectively, thus this increases the yield. They can also plant three times in a year, instead of two, and they don’t need to control and manage the weeds too. Currently, they are working on drought-tolerant corn, products with omega-3 proteins or balanced proteins, which will be available in the future.

Syngenta is the youngest of the three seed companies. Their objective is to see out yield stability, yield diseases, and further develop products that are resistant to rust and leaf blights. Its famous Bt-11 Maize also uses cry1ab gene from Monsanto. The difference of Syngenta’s Bt-11 Maize to Monsanto’s Mon810 is that the former has a pat gene where it is used a selectable marker, making the product herbicide-resistant while Mon810’s selectable marker is antibiotic-resistant. Bt-11 Maize is also a stack. The company’s source for their germplasm is possible because of network germplasm exchange programs. Two of the company’s current constraints to R and D in the Philippines are because of financial constraints, and the acquisition of germplasm.

Dow AgroSciences (DAS) presented two newest projects, the Herculex I™ (Insect Protection) and the Double Haploid Technology. Currently, it has 12 yellow and 11 white hybrids in the market. One yellow and one white hybrids are commercialized by Syngenta, and two yellow hybrids are commercialized by Cornworld. The difference of the Herculex I™ to Mon810 and Bt-11 Maize is that it uses cry1F gene. The company also presented the results of the field trials whose objective is to find the efficacy of GM Maize against maize GM pests, and it was successful. The company has its own germplasm. The company introduced for the first time the Double Haploid Technology which is currently under process. If it is approved, it would shorten the hybrid development process of the corn plant as it reduces the cycle-time in product development. It is efficient not only because of the speedy development, but it is also accurate in breeding process.

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