are here: Home
>> Monsanto leads $47-M corn research
Philippines Monsanto leads $47-M corn
research by Melody M. Aguiba
13-June-2008 Manila Bulletin
Monsanto, global biotechnology
pioneer, has initiated a collaboration on a $47-million research
on drought-resistant corn that could over the long term also
benefit drought-prone farms in the Philippines.
The drought-resistant corn project, funded by the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation,
involves the development through genetic modification (GM)
of a corn variety that can withstand extreme absence of
moisture over maybe three to four weeks. The drought-resistant
gene may come from a wild plant.
Drought-resistant corn that have so far been developed
under conventional means can last without moisture over
The germplasm for the research which will be donated by
the International Maize and What Improvement Center, a sister
agency of the Philippines- based International Rice Research
The project, really meant for the benefit of more arid
areas in Africa as it is called Water Efficient Maize for
Africa (WEMA), may in some way benefit the Philippines in
the future as local farmers also need it.
"We don’t know if the Philippines can get it, said
Vic Alpuerto, Monsanto Philippines Inc. commercial acceptance
"But of course our farmers look for this. All of our
corn lands are in rainfed areas. No corn growing areas have
irrigation facilities. Drought is farmers’ most damaging
A private-public partnership program, the development of
the droughtresistant corn will involve no royalty for the
developers. With such system, the technology could perhaps
be generously donated to other needy countries.
Because of the food crisis, Monsanto has introduced a three-point
program which are developing better seeds, conserving resources
(to cut by one-third the resources like land, water, and
energy used by 2030), and helping improve farmers’ lives.
This program targets the doubling of corn yield from 109.1
bushels per acre in 2000 to 220 bushels by 2030 (in popular
markets in Argentina, Brazil, and the US). With two times
the yield, farmers will utilize just half the land of what
they are utilizing at present.
Researches on increased soybean and cotton yield will also
The GM technology may be brought in under the private-public
partnership by Monsanto and German firm BASF which has started
embarking on life science researches. Researchers from Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa will participate together
with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.
"These commitments represent the beginning of a journey
that we will expand on and deepen in the years ahead,"
said Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant.
Most of Monsanto’s Dekalb hybrid corn varieties (including
those with borer resistance and herbicide resistance) already
have drought tolerance. But GM may enhance existing technologies.
For the first time in several decades, a significant increase
in price of commodities have been observed due to the higher
demand for protein in people’s diet particularly from China
and India, according to Grant.
And only an international collaboration can enable a more
extensive research that can benefit countries most impacted
by drought and the adverse effect of climate change.
SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center UPLB Campus 4031, Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone +6349 536 2290 ext. 406 / 169 / 135
Fax +6349 536 4105
SEARCA BIC is one of the biotechnology information nodes of the International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Global Knowledge
Center (ISAAA KC) and hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center
for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). It was officially
established in 2000 to address the needs of the region for a highly
credible, sound and factual biotechnology information center in the
Southeast Asian region accessible to various stakeholders.