DuPont finding ways to limit drought impact on food supply?

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 11th June 2008

DuPont science will help the world’s farmers increase their productivity and meet the growing global demand for grain, said William Niebur, DuPont vice president – DuPont Crop Genetics Research & Development, at an investors’ conference last week.
“This is an extraordinary time in agriculture globally. It is critical that we use our best scientific tools to ensure global food security through sustainable increases in agricultural productivity,” Niebur said at the annual Merrill Lynch Agricultural Chemicals Conference. “We are aggressively deploying a broad range of molecular and field-based breeding approaches, computer modeling and advanced biotechnologies to ensure that farmers will be able to meet the global challenge to produce more food, feed and fuel.”
“By bringing together a number of technological breakthroughs, DuPont, through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business, is targeting a 40 percent increase in yields from both its soybean and corn seed products in the next 10 years,” Niebur said. Those advancements include:

* Elite Germplasm – DuPont is mining and characterizing its leading corn and soybean genetics libraries for novel and high value characteristics that will help protect plants and boost yields in environments around the world.
* Accelerated Yield Technology – DuPont is employing an industry-leading approach that harnesses the power of its germplasm collection, strong bioassays and molecular breeding tools to drive genetic gain at unprecedented rates. Products developed with Accelerated Yield Technology are on the market today and this matrix of technologies will drive genetic gain in future products.
* Optimum GAT – This next-generation herbicide resistance for corn and soybeans will give growers additional flexibility and effectiveness for controlling the most challenging weeds. Niebur said that the traits are on track to meet regulatory milestones.
* Right Product Right Acre – Key to maximizing farmer productivity is getting the right hybrid or variety matched with specific conditions and grower preferences and practices. DuPont is utilizing its extensive database of each of its seed products, as well as its intimate customer relationships, to help growers place the seed on the most appropriate acre.
* Optimum AcreMax – “Pioneer will be the first seed company, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to help farmers increase productivity by making it possible for them to plant more of a given field to seed corn with the most advanced insect control options,” Niebur said. The first of several Optimum AcreMax products will be launched as early as 2009, pending regulatory approval.

Longer term, Mr Niebur claimed that DuPont will be introducing products that provide novel, native and transgenic drought tolerance and nitrogen use efficiency traits that will complement the industry-leading products that the company sells today. Both research areas are making strong progress through a number of different approaches, according to Mr Niebur.
Niebur believes past and current strategic investments in science and new talent are paying off significantly for its customers and for DuPont. “We expect to hold Pioneer North America corn market share and expand our market lead internationally this year,” Niebur concluded.