Non-GMO Soybeans Show 10% Greater Yield
NOTE: Although these new soybeans come from a biotech company, it's clear from the article that it's not GM that delivered the yield advantage that's being trumpeted. Instead it was down to molecular marker technologies - a biotechnology approach involving no genetic engineering.
You can also see from the article why genetic
engineering is so poor at improving productivity. As it notes, "Yield
in soybeans is controlled by many different genes working in
combination". And while Monsanto is preparing to launch its new Roundup
"RReady 2Yield"soybeans, there's nothing to indicate that the yield
claims being made for RR2 owe anything to genetic engineering. The
likelihood is that the parent lines were developed conventionally with
the help of molecular marker technologies - so called Marker Assisted
Selection (MAS)- and then the RR gene added to make them GM. That, of
course, will not stop the claims that GM has created productivity
EXTRACT: John Soper, senior research director for Pioneer, said the company used molecular marker technologies to find the genes that control yield in the soybean plant.
Pioneer: New soybeans produce 10% yield advantage
Des Moines Register, July 11 2008
Pioneer Hi-Bred, a Johnston-based unit of DuPont, launched Thursday what it is calling "a new generation" of soybean varieties designed to increase soybean yields by 40 percent during the next 10 years.
Pioneer president and DuPont vice president and general manager Paul Schickler said the new Y series soybeans, as Pioneer has named the 32 newseed varieties, will "deliver unprecedented productivity gains to North American soybean growers." Pioneer intends to sell enough of the new seed from the Y series to cover about 9 million acres for the 2009 growing season. The introduction of the 32 new Y series soybeans represents the largest volume of commercial products launched at one time in the 82-year history of Pioneer, Schickler said.
In more than 1,800 on-farm comparisons, the Y series demonstrated a 5 percent yield advantage over competitive soybean varieties, with some varieties yielding 6 percent to 10 percent more than their competitors, Schickler said. "With the Y series yield advantage, this new line has the potential to add about 19 million bushels of soybeans to U.S. production," he said. "In a time of tight supplies and soaring demand, that is a strong boost for producers and the industry."
Soybean breeders have been frustrated for years by the slow pace of soybean yield increases, especially when compared with corn. Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University agronomist, said soybean yields in Iowa have increased annually an average of less than half a bushel an acre since 1924. Average corn yields in Iowa, meanwhile, have increased almost two bushels anacre a year since 1938, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Other soybean companies also are trying to break the lid on soybean yield increases.
Monsanto Co. has said that four years of data show its newer Roundup "RReady2Yield" soybeans have a 7 percent to 11 percent increase over earlier versions of its herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready soybeans. Schickler said Pioneer brand soybeans have led North American soybean sales since 1989. Pioneer soybeans have gained an additional 6 percent of the soybean seed market in the past eight years, he said.
Soybean seed sales represent 16 percent of Pioneer's annual revenues. John Soper, senior research director for Pioneer, said the company used molecular marker technologies to find the genes that control yield in the soybean plant.
Yield in soybeans is controlled by many different genes working in combination, which made finding the right genes to target more difficult, Soper said. A genetic comparison of older soybean varieties with newer ones ended up focusing on 100 genes as potential yield enhancers, he said. By narrowing the genetic search to those 100 genes, Pioneer was able to match parent seed lines that resulted in more productive gene combinations, Soper said.
Don Schafer, senior marketing manager for Pioneer, said Pioneer's Y series of soybeans can be grown across the entire U.S. soybean-growing area and in some areas of Canada. Small quantities of the seed have been planted in test plots this year, and seed production for 2009 is proceeding at 28 locations in North America, he said. Pioneer expects to have a large demand for the Y series soybeans next year, Schafer said, but the price it will charge farmers for the Y series soybean seeds hasn't been determined.