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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
        Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Commercialization of Engineered Crops

Crop and Soil Environmental News, December 1996

Charles Hagedorn,
Extension Biotechnology Specialist

As described in previous articles, 1996 will be viewed as historic in agriculture because of the first large-scale introductions of genetically altered (engineered) crops. The following three part list describes (1) the engineered crops currently deregulated, (2) engineered crops currently undergoing deregulation review, and (3) engineered crops field tested under permit in 1996. These three categories represent the evaluation process used by USDA-APHIS in guiding applications through the regulatory structure that governs field tests and commercialization.

The first category contains 22 crops that have been deregulated and can be commercialized. There is no requirement for the company that owns a particular engineered crop to commercialize it (the owner may license or sell it to another company), but most will be commercialized. Engineered corn, cotton, and tomato make up 17 of the 22 crops in part 1. Herbicide tolerance and insect resistance are the major genetic constructions in field crops, while delayed ripening and flavor enhancement are the novel properties in tomatoes. Planted acreage of all engineered crops was small in 1996 due to limited seed supply. Acreage is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years, but will be concentrated in states that normally plant large acreages of the non-engineered crops.

1. ENGINEERED CROPS CURRENTLY DEREGULATED
Soybean
Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance - Monsanto
Synchrony (STS) tolerance - Dekalb Genetics

Corn
Insect resistance - Monsanto (European corn borer - ECB)
Insect resistance - Ciba Seeds (ECB)
Insect resistance - Northrup King (ECB)
Insect resistance - Mycogen (ECB)
Glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance - AgrEvo USA Company
Sethoxydim (Poast) tolerance - Dekalb Genetics
Imidazolinone (IMI) tolerance - American Cyanimid

Cotton
Insect resistance - Monsanto (tobacco budworm, cotton bollworm)
Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance - Monsanto
Bromoxynil (BXN) tolerance - Calgene
Sulfonylurea (SU) tolerance - DuPont

Tomato
Flavr Savr - Calgene
Delayed ripening - Monsanto
Delayed ripening - DNA Plant Technology
New lines of Flavr Savr - Calgene
Delayed ripening cherry tomato - Agritope, Inc.
Delayed ripening - Zeneca Plant Science and Petroseed

Canola
Enhanced laurate (oil) content - Calgene

Potato
Insect resistance - Monsanto (Colorado potato beetle)

Squash
Virus resistance - Upjohn/Asgrow

The second category includes 10 engineered crops, and 2 bacterial inoculants, currently undergoing regulatory review for commercialization. There is no way to tell how many of these will receive approval, but as industry becomes more familiar with the regulatory structure it is safe to assume that most of these will be granted commercial status. The two bacterial inoculants represent the first requests to commercialize genetically engineered microorganisms. These are undergoing extensive review because of concerns over releasing engineered organisms into the environment. They represent test cases for the regulatory and approval process.

2. ENGINEERED CROPS NOW UNDER DEREGULATION REVIEW
Corn
Glufosinate tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo
Glufosinate tolerance - Dekalb
Fertility improvement - Plant Genetics
Insect resistance - Sandoz/Northrup King (ECB)

Canola
Glufosinate tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo
Glyphosate tolerance - Monsanto
Fertility improvement - Plant Genetics

Soybean
Glufosinate tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo

Squash
Virus resistance - Asgrow

Papaya
Virus resistance - Cornell Univ./Univ. Hawaii
Inoculants (Live Bacteria)
Bt for cotton - Ecogen, Inc.
Rhizobium for alfalfa - Research Seeds

The third category represents engineered materials that are only in the field test stage at this time. While there is no way to tell which of these will go forward to deregulation review, it is certain that the ≥next generation≤ of engineered products will come from this list. The most striking thing about this list is the expansion of plants with desirable engineered traits into flowers, trees, grasses, and fruits, as well as an expanded list of field crops and vegetables.

3. OTHER ENGINEERED CROPS UNDER 1996 USDA FIELD TEST PERMITS
Field Crops
Canola, Cotton, Alfalfa, Corn, Soybeans, Barley, Rice, Wheat, Tobacco

Flowers
Gladiolus, Petunia, Chrysanthemum

Trees
Poplar, Spruce, Sweetgum

Oil
Soybean, Sunflower, Peanut

Nut
Walnut

Grasses
Creeping bentgrass, Bluegrass

Sugar Content
Beet, Sugarcane

Fruits
Apple, Cranberry, Grape, Melon, Plum, Raspberry, Strawberry, Watermelon

Vegetables
Broccoli, Carrot, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Pea, Pepper, Squash, Tomato

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