ST. LOUIS -- The European Commission today announced that it has approved the use of Monsanto's YieldGard Rootworm corn (MON 863) and its processed products as food and food ingredients under the Novel Foods Regulation.

"Monsanto welcomes the European Commission's ruling on YieldGard Rootworm corn technology and their affirmation of the safety of YieldGard Rootworm corn for use in food products," said Jerry Hjelle, vice president of regulatory affairs for Monsanto.

With this announcement, the European Union (EU) authorizes the immediate use of YieldGard Rootworm for human consumption. Today's decision is expected to be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in the coming weeks. This announcement complements the August 2005 decision which allowed the import, processing and use of YieldGard Rootworm grain in animal feed in the EU.

In addition, the EU Commission also granted import feed and processing approval of YieldGard Plus, which is a hybrid stack of YieldGard Rootworm (MON 863) with YieldGard Corn Borer (MON 810). YieldGard Plus is currently under review by the EU for use in food and food ingredients. The European Commission's ruling does not include the approval of YieldGard Rootworm corn or YieldGard Plus for cultivation in the EU or the import approval for any YieldGard Rootworm combined trait products.

"These decisions are great news for the more than 200 seed companies and tens of thousands of U.S. farmers who plant biotech-enhanced corn hybrids," said Ernesto Fajardo, Vice President of U.S. Crop Production for Monsanto.

YieldGard Rootworm corn contains a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt -- a common soil microbe) that specifically targets corn rootworm larvae, allowing the corn plant to naturally protect its roots against the damaging corn rootworm. The corn rootworm has earned the nickname the "billion-dollar pest," as the USDA estimates that this pest causes $1 billion in lost revenue annually to the U.S. corn crop.

Since YieldGard Rootworm corn technology was first introduced in the United States in 2003, growers have realized numerous on-farm benefits including superior control of the corn rootworm. The technology's ability to provide greater root protection than its non-protected counterpart allows the corn plant to draw more moisture and nutrients out of the soil. The added moisture in a dry year, like 2005, provided YieldGard Rootworm farmers with taller, healthier plants on-farm and greater profitability at the end of the season. These benefits continue to serve as a primary driver for adoption.

Monsanto's year-end sales data for 2005 highlight that acres planted with YieldGard Rootworm corn rose for a third consecutive season in the United States. YieldGard Rootworm technology is estimated to have been planted on more than 4 million acres in 2005. Recent company estimates suggest that acres planted with this technology will expand again in 2006 -- with forecasts of up to 8 million acres planted this coming season.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.