- Seed companies race to tap multibillion-dollar market.
- When the planting season arrives later this year, farmers in the United States will have a new way to safeguard their crops from drought.
From Scientific American:
When the planting season arrives later this year, farmers in the United States will have a new way to safeguard their crops from drought. Last week, DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, announced plans to release a series of hybrid maize (corn) strains that can flourish with less water. The seeds will compete with another maize strain unveiled last July by Swiss agribusiness Syngenta. Both companies used conventional breeding rather than genetic engineering to produce their seeds.
Pioneer says that field studies show its new hybrids will increase maize yields by 5% in water-limited environments, such as the western states of the intensively agricultural Corn Belt region. That compares with the 15% yield gain promised by Syngenta for its maize. Both companies, as well as seed firm Monsanto, based in St Louis, Missouri, are also working on transgenic maize varieties, hoping to tap into a multibillion-dollar market.