INSIGHT — Monsanto has just announced changes to its Bt refuge rules. Specifically if you do not follow the refuge as laid out by Monsanto you will not have access to their Bt genetics.
They plan to monitor growers. Growers who are not following the refuge rules will be sent a letter. Growers not in compliance will be monitored again next year. If in the second year you are found not to be in compliance then you will not be allowed to buy Monsanto Bt genetics.
This all sounds good in principle. Will they do it? We will see. When we are told that a 2,000-acre corn grower has been refused Monsanto genetics we will know they are serious.
What this new policy really states is that Monsanto is serious about stewardship of their genetics. They are concerned about the long term use of these genetics. The present policy may not be enforceable but it sure shows that Monsanto is trying. And if this policy is not effective you can be sure Monsanto will try something else to ensure the longevity of their investment in these genetics.
This stewardship concern is with reason. In the United States there are issues with Bt corn rootworm genetics not working. This is not isolated to Monsanto’s genetics. The VT3 trait has been cited but also there are fields where Herculex and Agrisure are failing to give adequate control of corn rootworm. There are numerous cases where corn rootworm has caused extensive lodging on hybrids with Bt corn rootworm genetic protection. Refuge hybrids in the same field treated with rootworm insecticide have much less rootworm damage.
Stay tuned as this action evolves. In the meantime be sure to plant refuge. BF