The future of biotechnology and how it can impact the corn industry will be discussed at the National Corn Growers Association's Corn Utilization Technology Conference June 5-7 in Dallas.

Frank Barresi of Grain Processing Corp. is chairing the session "Biotechnology: Its Benefits and Future," with four presentations on the issue.

"We have a large company represented in Monsanto, two smaller companies in Divergence and Philom Bios and a professor from Iowa State University" presenting, said Barresi. "We've taken a cross section of academia, small business and big business, getting the people trying to develop new characteristics of the corn seed.

"These are the researchers who are focused on the front end of the corn utilization process by enhancing the genetics-modifying the traits to make the corn hybrids better to convert to food and energy," he said.

The session presenters will be:

  • Alan Myers, Iowa State University:"Genetic Modification of Maize Starch Structure and Properties: Opportunities for Improved Corn Utilization"

  • Derek Rapp, Divergence Inc.: "Nematode Infestation in Corn and Efforts in the Discovery of Nematode Resistance in Row Crops"

  • Gary Hnatowich, Philom Bios: "Inoculants for Enhanced Corn Production"

  • Lyle Crossland, Monsanto Company

  • Barresi said the session is not entirely about biotech corn; the presenters also will discuss methods to improve traits through conventional hybrid technology. He said the outlook for enhanced corn hybrids is bright, pointing to farmers producing the second-largest corn crop on record despite strenuous growing conditions.

    "A lot of the drought-resistant strains have helped enhance yields. Last year's 11-billion-bushel crop during a non-ideal season is an example of that," Barresi said. "We attribute the high yields to advances in biotechnology. And that's what our presenters are working on, providing enhanced varieties and better yields to be used as livestock feed, food and energy."

    Richard Glass, NCGA vice president of research and business development, said, "Biotechnology holds advantages for corn processing downstream by reducing input costs, increasing supply and allowing companies to modify corn for specific outputs. CUTC is happy to have representation from large and small companies and academia to give a good representation of where the biotechnology industry is going relating to corn processing."

    More information on CUTC is available at Early registration for the June 5-7 conference ends this Friday, March 31.

    SOURCE: NCGA news release.