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Commercial Status of Transgenic Crops and Microorganisms -- 1997 Update

Crop and Soil Environmental News, December 1997

Charles Hagedorn
Extension Specialist

The years 1996 and 1997 will be viewed as historic in agriculture because of the first large-scale introductions of genetically altered (engineered or transgenic) crops and microorganisms (live inoculants) for agricultural uses. The following three-category list describes (1) the transgenic crops and microorganisms currently deregulated, (2) transgenic crops currently undergoing deregulation review, and (3) transgenic crops field tested under permit in 1997. These three categories represent the evaluation process used by USDA-APHIS in guiding applications through the regulatory structure that governs field tests and commercialization.

1. Transgenic Crops and Microorganisms Currently Deregulated
This first category contains 26 crops and 6 microorganisms (live inoculants) that have been deregulated and can be commercialized. There is no requirement for the company that owns a particular crop or microbe to commercialize it (the owner may license or sell it to another company), but most have been commercialized. Engineered corn, cotton, and tomato make up 16 of the 26 crops in this category. 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 but acreage expanded rapidly in 1997. Acreage is expected to continue to increase quickly over the next few years, but will be concentrated in states that normally plant large acreages of the non-engineered crops. The 6 bacterial inoculants represent the first approvals to commercialize genetically engineered microorganisms. These underwent extensive review prior to approval because of concerns over releasing engineered organisms into the environment.

Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance - Monsanto
Synchrony (STS) tolerance - Dekalb Genetics
Enhanced oleic acid (oil) content - DuPont

Insect resistance (European corn borer - ECB) - Monsanto
Insect resistance (ECB) - DeKalb
Insect resistance (ECB) - Novartis
Insect resistance (ECB) - Novartis/Northrup King
Insect resistance (ECB) - Mycogen
Glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo
Sethoxydim (Poast) tolerance - Dekalb Genetics
Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance and insect resistance (ECB) - Monsanto

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

Delayed ripening and flavor enhancement - Monsanto/Calgene
Delayed ripening - DNA Plant Technology
Delayed ripening cherry tomato - Agritope, Inc.
Delayed ripening - Zeneca Plant Science and Petroseed

Enhanced laurate (oil) content - Monsanto/Calgene
Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance - Monsanto
Glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo

Insect resistance (Colorado potato beetle) - Monsanto

Virus resistance - Upjohn/Asgrow
Virus resistance - Seminis Veg. Seeds

Virus resistance - Cornell Univ./Univ. Hawaii

Inoculants (Live Bacteria)
Bt toxicity to caterpillar pests - Ecogen
Bt toxicity to Colorado Potato Beetle and caterpillar pests - Ecogen
Bt toxicity to caterpillar pests - Novartis
Bt toxicity to caterpillar pests (2 different formulations for different caterpillars) - Mycogen
Rhizobium for alfalfa - Urbana Labs/Research Seeds

2. Transgenic Crops now under Deregulation Review
This second category includes 7 transgenic crops 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 (and based on the 1997 approval record) it is safe to assume that most of these will be granted commercial status.

Glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance and insect resistance (budworm and bollworm) - Hoechst/AgrEvo
Glyphosate (Roundup) tolerance - Dekalb/Monsanto
Insect resistance (ECB) - Hoescht/AgrEvo
Insect resistance (ECB and corn earworm) - Novartis/Rogers Seeds

Glufosinate (Liberty) tolerance - Hoechst/AgrEvo

Bromoxynil (BXN) tolerance and insect resistance (budworm and bollworm) - Monsanto/Calgene

Insect resistance - Monsanto

3. Other Transgenic Crops under 1997 USDA Field Test Permits
This third category represents engineered materials that were only in the field test stage as of last field season. 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 aspect about this list is the expansion of plants with engineered traits into flowers, trees, grasses, and fruits, as well as an expanded list of field crops and vegetables.

Field Crops
Canola, Cotton, Alfalfa, Corn, Soybeans, Barley, Rice, Wheat, Tobacco

Gladiolus, Petunia, Chrysanthemum

Poplar, Spruce, Sweetgum

Soybean, Sunflower, Peanut


Creeping bentgrass, Bluegrass

Sugar Content
Beet, Sugarcane

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

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

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