WASHINGTON, June 14, 2017 – Corn growers in the U.S. and Canada will have a new option next year when Dow AgroSciences launches Enlist Corn, engineered to be resistant to the company’s Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains glyphosate and the choline salt of 2,4-D.

The company announced today it would be able to start selling the biotech corn because China’s Ministry of Agriculture has approved the import of corn containing the Enlist trait. Dow is still awaiting approval of Enlist soybeans.

Joe Vertin, Dow AgroSciences’ global leader for its Enlist Weed Control System, said the company has received feedback from China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) on its Enlist soybean trait and “we expect to address those questions quickly.”

China also has approved a Monsanto soybean variety, Vistive Gold, according to Reuters, which cited a Ministry of Agriculture statement. Eight traits had been awaiting import approval by the NBC, some for as long as 70 months.

Under a 100-day action plan announced by the U.S. and China last month, the NBC committed to reviewing those eight products and to submit any questions to the applicants. It also said it would “hold meetings as frequently and as soon as possible after an application is resubmitted in order to finalize reviews of remaining applications without undue delay,” according to a Q&A released by the U.S. Commerce Department last month. (See the link in this paragraph for that Q&A.)

“We are very excited to bring the Enlist system to farmers in the U.S. and Canada,” Dow AgroSciences President and CEO Tim Hassinger said in a press release. “The feedback on the performance during our stewarded introduction has been extremely positive, as growers have been very impressed with both the weed control as well as the formulation advancements we have made, reducing the potential for drift and volatility.”

Enlist Duo contains Colex-D technology, which Dow said “minimizes the potential for physical drift and provides near-zero volatility.”

Hassinger praised the U.S. and Chinese governments for their efforts. “We look forward to continuing to work with China and their regulatory process for additional trait approvals so we can bring farmers new and much needed technology,” he said.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization said that while it was pleased that two of the eight products “in the final stage of the Chinese regulatory process” had received approval, it also was “disappointed all eight were not approved and expects the Ministry of Agriculture to honor the 100-day plan.”

“Full implementation of this agreement should enable China to clear the queue, by approving the remaining six pending products,” BIO said. “On average, these products have been pending approval in China for five years, and have been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world. ...  BIO will continue to monitor the implementation of this agreement and look to the U.S. government to engage China to ensure the remaining six products are approved by the conclusion of the 100-day plan.”

The National Corn Growers Association also urged approval of the remaining six traits, saying it  “remains concerned by (the Chinese) system, which has operated in a  manner that is both unpredictable and asynchronous for many years now.

“We look forward to partnering with the Administration to continue pressing the Chinese government to move toward a science-based, predictable process and to follow a timeline more in sync with international trading partners,” NCGA said.

Dow had been waiting to commercialize Enlist corn until it received the import approval from China, a step that has assumed more significance since China rejected U.S. corn in late 2013 after finding traces of Syngenta's MIR162 trait. The company is now defending itself against lawsuits from corn growers who claim they lost income because of reduced corn prices.

Dow AgroSciences’ Vertin said the company would be gradually ramping up production of Enlist corn seed in order to meet grower demand. “We are producing seed now for 2018,” he said.

He also said that Enlist corn would be “a key growth driver” for Dow’s seed business, for which the company projects sales to increase by $600 million by 2020. Dow has licensed the technology to Monsanto, he said.

Commenting on import approval of Vistive Gold, engineered to produce soybean oil low in saturated fats, Monsanto said that while it was “disappointing that not all eight of the industry products in the late stage of review received approvals – consistent with numerous scientific conclusions around the world on these same products – we look forward to continued progress by the conclusion and in line with the expectations of the U.S.-China 100-day plan.”


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