From the Farm: SmartStax Pro corn

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URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Corn rootworms reduce the US corn crop by hundreds of millions of bushels every year, but farmers have a new defense against them.

China is allowing the importation of US corn with SmartStax Pro genetics.

“That’s important because if this product is going to be used commercially in the US it has approved for import into our trading partners,” says Joe Spencer, Insect Behavioral Specialist at the University of Illinois. “Without that the trade door is not open, so this is important because it opens the door to commercial planting of this product.”

Spencer says BT-based corn hybrids have been losing their ability to resist corn rootworms, but SmartStaxPro offers new technologies to kill them.

“One of those is a brand new mode of action called RNAi which acts differently from BT,” he says. “And these products being expressed together in a single plant, we call that a pyramided hybrid, so we have multiple modes of action. 

“That a really beneficial way to deploy toxins because it makes it unlikely that any individual insect could survive on such a product, unless they were resistant to all three modes of action.”

Some corn rootworms are already resistant to some of the B-T traits in SmartStax Pro.

“So from the standpoint of a product that has good efficacy, it’s something new that the rootworms haven’t seen in the RNAI trait, and many of them may have some susceptibility left to one of the BT traits,” Spencer says. “So this is a product that is going to be able to kill a lot more rootworms than any of the B-T traits we presently have.

The insect behavioral specialist has a warning to farmers about the use of SmartStaxPro. WCIA will meet with him again next week to learn more about that warning in another report From the Farm.

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