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June 18, 2013

Enough Intacta RR2 PRO Seed to Plant 9% of Brazil's Soybeans

Starting in September, Brazilian farmers will be able to plant Intacta RR2 PRO soybeans in large scale for the first time. Even though these new soybeans from Monsanto were approved for cultivation by the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) in 2010 and by the European Union in 2012, the company decided to hold the soybeans off the market until China gave its approval, which occurred last week. China is the number one destination of Brazilian soybeans followed by Europe.

The new soybeans are not only resistant to Roundup Herbicide, but they are also resistant to many of the major leaf-eating insects and worms that feed on Brazilian soybeans. Intacta soybeans contain the Bt gene that has been used in corn for many years to make the plant resistant to insect feeding.

The extended wait for the Chinese approval allowed the company to conduct an extensive testing of the new technology. The company tested the soybeans in 1,000 plots scattered over 500 locations stretching from the state of Rio Grande do Sul in far southern Brazil to new expansion areas in the state of Tocantins in northern Brazil. Since the soybeans had not yet been approved by China, all the production from the test plots had to be destroyed.

Monsanto has indicated that they will mount a concerted effort to educate Brazilian farmers on the proper use of the new technology. In order to help delay the evolution of Bt resistant insects, Brazilian farmers will need to plant refuse areas where Intacta soybeans will not be permitted. This allows the insects to migrate to the refuse areas where they will need to be controlled by chemical applications. If refuse areas are not used, the insects could eventually develop resistance to the Bt technology.

For the upcoming growing season there will be 3 million sacks (40 kilograms each) of Intacta RR2 PRO seed available in 30 different varieties. The 120,000 tons of seed will be sufficient to plant 2.5 million hectares of soybeans or about 9% of Brazil's anticipated soybean acreage in 2013/14. The company has not yet indicated how much royalty will be charged for the use of this new technology.