New threat to Brazil's breadbasket: a pesky caterpillar
China approved imports of the new seed, Intacta RR2 Pro, in June and it was first sold on the Brazilian market in July. The seeds accounted for some 4 percent of soybean area planted this season and are so far proving resistant to helicoverpa armigera.
The company is also selling Bollgard Cotton seeds, which have helped control helicoverpa armigera in Australia. Some 90 percent of soybeans planted are genetically modified in Brazil, where international companies including Syngenta and Dow Agrosciences also sell seeds.
More Intacta seeds will be available for next season, though not nearly enough to cover local demand, Monsanto said. Intacta seeds cost 115 reais per hectare, five times more than the 22 reais Brazilian farmers paid for the company's previous technology, herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready.
Jose Schreiner, a vice president at the National Agriculture Federation, said Intacta was proving resistant to helicoverpa armigera in his state of Goiás, but he hopes GMO technology will be just one of many tools used to combat the caterpillar.
"I think working with biological control, natural enemies, is the road we should pursue," Schreiner said, referring to viruses that can be applied to crops to kill caterpillars.
"We won't be able to eliminate it but we should be able to have a good level of control at a lower cost."
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