Dow AgroSciences wins OK for Brazil GMO corn seed

Dow AgroSciences has won approval from Brazil regulators for a new corn seed containing five genes that protect plants from insects and weed-killing treatments, an executive told Reuters. The new genetically modified corn seed, Powercore, is part of a cross-licensing agreement with rival Monsanto Co. Dow, a unit of Dow Chemical, said the seed is designed to help farmers fight above-ground pests that have battered crop production.

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Companies join to boost crops in poor regions

Despite an intense rivalry over U.S. farm fields, global seed makers Monsanto and DuPont are joining with beverage companies, retailers and others in collaborative projects to boost food production in some of the world's poorest areas. The corporate consortium behind the "New Vision for Agriculture" project is starting its efforts in Tanzania and Vietnam and expects to begin a pilot in Indonesia later this year, according to Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of sustainability at Monsanto.

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DuPont eager to use Danisco’s science

DuPont's Craig Binetti is eager to start using Danish food additives maker Danisco's expertise to expand development of healthier foods, but shareholders and regulators are still in the way. "We have very complementary portfolios of businesses. This is all about food and nutrition science," Craig Binetti, head of the company's nutrition and biosciences unit, told the Reuters Global Food and Agriculture Summit.

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Roundup relied on “too long by itself”: Monsanto

In a nod to concerns about overuse of its popular Roundup herbicide, Monsanto Co said it would try to layer its popular "Roundup Ready" cropping system with a similar system based on a rival herbicide. "We've relied on it too long by itself," Monsanto executive vice president of sustainability Jerry Steiner said of the company's Roundup herbicide, in an interview on Monday at the Reuters Food & Agriculture Summit.

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Analysis: U.S. corn yield growth must quicken

For decades, U.S. farmers have helped feed the world by sowing some of the most versatile cropland, adjusting each year to grow a bit more of this and less of that, to replenish those crops in greatest shortage. This year, however, even with farmers planting nearly every acre of arable land, it won’t be enough to tame prices and replenish stocks. The price of almost every major crop is at or near record highs; competition -- between farmers and between crops -- has never been more intense; and Midwestern property values have surged.

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Gates Foundation works to boost food production

Amid global unrest over food security, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Sunday it was forging a new effort to support agricultural research projects in Africa and Asia aimed at helping small farmers increase crop yields and farm incomes. The Gates Foundation, which is already a force in agricultural research and development in Africa, said it would donate $70 million to a new collaboration that will focus on addressing threats to food production in the developing world, including crop diseases, pests, poor soils and harsh weather.

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Scientist warns on safety of Monsanto’s Roundup

Questions about the safety of a popular herbicide made by Monsanto Co have resurfaced in a warning from a U.S. scientist that claims top-selling Roundup may contribute to plant disease and health problems for farm animals. Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber has written a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that a newly discovered and widespread “electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.” He said the pathogen appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

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Biotech companies race for drought-tolerant crops

JOHNSTON, Iowa (Reuters)- Outside the headquarters of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc, the pavement is iced over and workers arriving for the day are bundled up against the cold. 

But inside a laboratory, a warm, man-made drought is in force, curling the leaves of rows of fledgling corn plants as million-dollar machines and scientists in white coats monitor their distress.

This work is part of a global race pitting Pioneer, Monsanto Co and other biotech companies against each other in a race to develop new strains of corn and other crops that can thrive when water is in short supply.  

“Equipping plants to be able to maintain productivity in the driest years is of critical importance,” said Bill Niebur, global vice president for research and development at Pioneer, a division of DuPont. “Drought is a global problem and we recognize the threat that comes with climate change. We’ve got our top talent in our organization working on this.”

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Biotech dairy debate

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Jan 18 (Reuters) - Five years ago, Missouri dairy farmer Leroy Shatto was struggling to stay in business. Today, his herd has more than doubled amid a surge in demand for his product. The difference: a marketing campaign touting Shatto milk as free of artificial hormones.

Osborn, Missouri-based Shatto milk comes plain or flavored, but all comes from cows free of the genetically engineered hormone supplements that many conventional dairies give cows to to boost their milk production.

“That is what the consumers want now,” said Shatto, who runs a small family farm of 220 cows. “People are demanding this stuff not to be in their milk. If I had 100 more cows tomorrow, I still couldn’t keep caught up with demand.”

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Monsanto floats U.S.-only GM wheat release

Monsanto is discussing with the American wheat industry whether it should be held to its promise not to release genetically modified wheat in the United States unless it can simultaneously market it in Canada, wheat industry officials said last week. Monsanto told top officials from U.S. wheat growing and marketing organizations that it was facing stiff opposition to its GM wheat in Canada.

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