Developing generic GMOs

Homestead crop row
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After the patent on one of the most popular versions of genetically engineered soybeans expired this year, U.S. universities are creating new generic GMO soybean varieties, many of which are designed to guard against specific, local pests.

Ninety percent of soybean seeds planted in the U.S. are genetically engineered to withstand herbicides. Often that’s glyphosate, the weed-whacking ingredient in Roundup, developed by the behemoth seed company Monsanto.

The glyphosate-resistant trait transformed U.S. agriculture when the first generation of Roundup was introduced. Twenty years later, the patent for that technology has expired, leaving the door open for universities to run with the technology and layer seeds with more protections.

At the Bay Farm Research Facility just outside of Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri soybean breeder Andrew Scaboo grows test plots of soybean varieties.

Related article:  Germany's environment minister pitches plan to ban glyphosate by 2023

Researchers here have 50 acres of fields to test different combinations of traits in soybean plants – all with the goal of creating a variety that can stand up to disease threats, yield strong numbers and enhance the quality of the beans.

But will farmers take a risk and buy these off-brand seeds with the Roundup Ready technology?

While under patent, Roundup Ready seeds ran between $55 and $70 a bag, according to Randy Baker, a seed salesman in northeast Missouri.  But these university-developed seeds are generic versions so they’re generally cheaper. University of Arkansas’ versions are going for less than half the original price.

Read full, original post: University-made Roundup Ready seeds ready for market

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