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Dow AgroSciences Developing Insect-Resistant Soybean Traits

Soybean field (ARS/USDA)

Soybean field (Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company, is developing genetically engineered traits that provide soybeans with a greater ability to resist attacks from insects that chew on their plants. The company in a statement says it plans to submit its soybean traits for regulatory approval worldwide, beginning in Brazil and Argentina.

The new traits will help protect soybean plants from lepidopteran pests, insects in the same family as moths and butterflies. Lepidopteran insects are usually beneficial for their pollination, but their caterpillars can feed on and defoliate plants. The company says its research shows the traits will protect soybeans from pests such as s fall armyworms, soybean loopers, velvetbean caterpillars, soybean podworms, and tobacco budworms.

The technology developed by Dow AgroSciences enables soybeans to produce two proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacteria that cause disease among insects. The proteins react with cells in the insects to paralyze their digestive systems, stop feeding, and eventually die from starvation. Bt bacteria, while damaging to insects, are considered safe for humans and wildlife.

Dow AgroSciences plans to first submit the traits for regulatory approval and commercialization in Brazil and Argentina. The company says soybean growers in both countries face significant annual yield losses from insects. The traits are expected to be available for elite and high-yield soybean varieties in both markets over the next three to five years.

Dow AgroSciences also announced yesterday a collaboration with Synpromics, a biotechnology company in Edinburgh, U.K., developing synthetic promoters that the company says allow for greater control of genetic profiles of organisms under a variety of conditions. The companies plan to develop a proof-of-concept demonstration of Synpromics’ synthetic promoter technology, but further details of the collaboration, including financial aspects, were not disclosed.

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