Not Yet Available Bt Soybean Technology Could Benefit U.S.
Specialists from Mississippi State University say that Bt soybeans that have been widely planted across South America since 2013 have shown impressive results, and could offer an additional weapon against caterpillars if approved in the U.S.
Millions of acres of Monsanto’s Intacta RR2 Pro Bt soybeans have been planted in other countries, but there has been no indication that the technology will be approved for use in the U.S.
“We’ve been working with this technology in our caterpillar tests for several years — it works, and it looks good,” says Don Cook, assistant research professor at the Delta Research and Extension Center, who discussed the technology at a recent MSU Technology Field Day at the university’s R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center at Starkville.
“Depending on the crop year, we’ve had an opportunity to see this technology against every caterpillar pest, and the results have been impressive. Under extreme insect pressure with this Bt technology, we have seen essentially zero survival,” said Angus Catchot, MSU Extension professor of entomology.
The Bt soybean combines three facets in one product – protection against worms and caterpillars that attack soybeans such as the velvetbean caterpillar, corn earworm, soybean looper, lesser cornstalk borer, and cotton bollworm, it increases yields, and provides tolerance to glyphosate herbicide. Another positive is that the varieties being planted in South America overlap with those planted in the Mid-South U.S., so a transition to the U.S. market would be rapid and smooth.
The specialists state that the highest benefit would be for later planted soybeans. Soybeans planted before April 20 usually do not have large issues with insects. However, if the technology was approved for U.S. commercialization, there would probably be a required refuge of as much as 50%.