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Monsanto says new corn could produce bumper crops

Published on 4 October, 2006, Last updated at 05:30 GMT

By Jack Kaskey

Monsanto Co., the world's largest developer of genetically modified crops, said an experimental corn seed that produces drought-tolerant plants may boost yields in dry parts of the U.S. by 40 percent in the next decade.

The seeds can increase yields by 8 to 10 percent on farms with no irrigation from North Dakota to Texas, Chief Technology Officer Robert T. Fraley said Tuesday during a presentation on Creve Coeur-based Monsanto's website. The seeds, which will contain other improvements, will be introduced after 2010. Yields in dry regions may rise to 121 bushels an acre by 2015 from 88 now, he said.

Monsanto plans to engineer as many as six benefits into corn by the end of the decade, up from three currently. The new seeds will contain genes that provide ethanol makers with more-nutritious animal feed after extracting the fuel, Fraley said.

Corn is grown mostly for animal feed with an increasing amount used to make ethanol, a gasoline additive. By 2015, ethanol will be the dominant use for corn, rising to 41 percent of output from 18 percent today, Fraley said.

The portion used for animal feed will drop by half to 18 percent, he said.

Renessen, a joint venture with Cargill Inc., is opening a pilot plant in February for converting used grain from ethanol factories into high-lysine, high-protein swine and poultry feed, Fraley said. This may create a second source of revenue for ethanol producers, he said. Monsanto is developing the seeds, and Cargill, the biggest U.S. agriculture company, is designing the facility.

Shares of Monsanto rose 90 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $47.75 in


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