MONSANTO are gearing up to introduce new biotech trait Roundup Ready Xtend in the coming years, and technology development lead Dr James Neilsen was on-hand at the Australian Cotton Conference to speak to growers about the developments.
Dr Neilsen spoke in the ‘war on weeds’ session about the new trait, which will allow growers to use a range of different herbicides over their cotton instead of relying on glyphosate.
He said the introduction will allow growers choice.
“Roundup Ready Xtend will let growers use a range of different herbicides over their cotton, including Glyphosate RoundUp which they currently have, but also dicamba and glufosinate to better control some of their crop weeds,” Dr Neilsen told Queensland Country Life.
Through surveys done in the past three years, Monsanto were able to establish about 90 per cent of growers were still seeing good results with glyphosate, but other growers were indicating that they have a glyphosate resistance on their farm.
“It's really important to introduce some other modes of action and other ways of controlling weeds to be able to combat those weeds and also combat weeds that have always been hard to control with glyphosate like fleabane and sow thistle that are becoming resistant,” Dr Neilsen said.
Recognising that glyphosate is not the only tool required for an effective weed control system, the Roundup Ready PLUS program was launched by Monsanto in conjunction with Syngenta.
“We're providing incentives for growers to use residual herbicides again in their weed control system and move away from some of the reliance that they've had to date with just using Glyphosate,” Dr Nielsen said.
Xtend is currently registered with the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, and is currently in the process of registration with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Dr Neilsen said the trait is “not quite as simple” as the Bollgard III three trait.
“This is really a system; it's a combination of a trait in the plant with two different types of herbicide - Roundup Xtend which is a combination of dicamba and glyphosate, or XtendiMax which is a stand alone dicamba product,” he said.
“It's going to be a product that really gives growers an opportunity to rotate which herbicides they're using and really attack some of the different weeds.
“In the dryland system we know that fleabane and other things are becoming a real challenge.”
He said the product was launched in the United States of America last year in the soy and cotton industries, and had a “really good uptake”.
“In terms of area it was the biggest launch of a new biotech product anywhere in the world, ever, in terms of volume,” he said.
“And we've seen almost a doubling in the acres that they grow in the US of that this year.”
Monsanto are hoping to have the product fully registered and ready to launch in Australia in 2021.
But with news that Brazil has banned the use of glyphosate, the push for other options for growers is growing.
“Glyphosate is a vital tool for Brazilian agriculture. For more than 40 years, Brazilian farmers and other users have depended on glyphosate-based products to help them control weeds effectively, sustainably, and safely,” Dr Neilsen said.
“Like all herbicide products, glyphosate is routinely reviewed by regulatory authorities to ensure it can be used safely. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide – including ANVISA, national regulatory authorities in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and other countries, as well as international science and health organizations – has been that glyphosate can be used safely.
“More than 800 scientific studies and reviews have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use.
“Monsanto respects the rigorous, science-based processes currently used by ANVISA and other regulatory authorities to ensure the safe use of glyphosate and other crop protection products.”