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June 13, 2013

China to Accept new Intacta RR2 PRO Soybeans from Brazil

The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Andrade, recently announced that the Chinese government will allow a new GMO soybean variety to be imported into the country. The new variety is called Intacta RR2 PRO and it has been developed by Monsanto specifically for the Brazilian market. The new soybean is resistant to the major leaf-eating worms and other pests which routinely feed on Brazilian soybeans. The minister had been trying for two years to get the Chinese to accept the new soybean variety.

The Intacta RR2 PRO is resistant to insect attacks because it contains the Bt gene which has been used in corn hybrids for many years. Monsanto is promoting the new variety as having three major advantages over existing soybeans - resistance to leaf-eating insects, tolerance to Roundup Herbicide, and higher yielding that current varieties.

Due to the tropical climate in Brazil, insect feeding is a major concern for Brazilian soybean producers. There is always a mired of insects attacking soybeans including the corn ear worm which was first discovered in Brazil two years ago and it caused severe damage this past growing season to soybeans, corn, and cotton production in western Bahia. Controlling the insects is especially difficult in Brazil where there are no freezing winter temperatures to kill off the insects between soybean crops.

In central Brazil, the period between crops is known as the dry season which generally runs from May to September. During this period the temperatures are in the 80's or 90's but there is little precipitation. Insect species can easily survive this dry period and infect newly planted soybeans.

After being tested in 500 locations across ten Brazilian states (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Goias, and Rondonia), Monsanto reported that the Intacta RR2 PRO variety generated an additional R$ 346 more income per hectare. Eliminating the need for most insecticide applications saved an average of R$ 70 per hectare. The new variety yielded on average 6.59 sacks per hectare (5.7 bu/ac) more than current varieties generating an additional R$ 276 per hectare.

The Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) hailed the news as being very important for producers in the number one soybean producing state in Brazil. China is by far the largest purchaser of Mato Grosso's soybeans and without their approval, the farmers in the state could not take advantage of the new technology.

Brazilian farmers will be able to purchase the new soybeans starting with the 2013/14 growing season which they will start panting in September. Monsanto estimates that they will have approximately 3 million sacks of seed available for sale this upcoming growing season. That would be enough seed to plant approximately 2.5 million hectares of soybeans or about 9% of Brazil's anticipated 2013/14 soybean crop. The company is expecting that many farmers will