Over 20 engineered crops are now being commercialized and quickly brought to market. Farmers have their choice of a list of herbicide-, insect-, and disease-resistant hybrids and varieties, and the numbers are certain to increase rapidly over the next several years with more crop introductions and "stacking" of multiple characteristics within crops. While transgenic seed introductions in the major field crops (corn, soybeans, cotton, and potatoes) have taken the early lead, specialty crops in fruits, vegetables, and forages are not far behind. Major agribusinesses such as Novartis, Monsanto, Dekalb, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, are putting the full efforts of their research and marketing programs into engineered crops to ensure their success in the market place. Some of this information was obtained from an article in "AgConsultant" Magazine (Seed Scorecard, J. C. Sulecki and B. Kantz, 11/96, pp.4-7). The following is a description of what to expect with engineered specialty crops over the next few years.
Bt and Virus Resistant Potatoes
NewLeaf Bt potatoes, from Monsanto and its seed division, NatureMark, Boise, ID, were commercially introduced in 1996 and contain built-in resistance to Colorado potato beetle (CPB), which can destroy up to 85% of a crop. Currently, total Bt potato pest management programs include use of IPM techniques that are "soft" on beneficial insects, CPB population monitoring, and planting of a non-Bt refuge to at least 20% of the total potato crop. For 1997, NatureMark anticipates NewLeaf will be planted on 50,000 acres. Several virus-resistant potato varieties are planned for release in 1998; potatoes stacked with both Bt and resistance to potato leafroll virus and potato virus Y (mosaic).
Due for introduction in limited quantities in 1997 are alfalfa varieties with built-in resistance to potato leafhopper.
Virus Resistant Squash
Squash varieties resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, and watermelon mosaic virus are planned for introduction in 1997 and 1998.
Value Added Vegetables
Value-added vegetables include Monsanto's enhanced shelf-life tomato, while in development at Zeneca and Petoseed are meatier processing tomatoes for a thicker paste.
Researchers at Rutgers University are field-testing a technology which, like Bt potatoes, helps eggplant resist CPB.
Liberty Link Crops
Liberty (glufosinate) Link canola, currently registered in Canada, will have a U.S. debut in 1998-99, followed by rice (2000) and sugar beets (2001).
Researchers in Louisiana are field-testing imidazolinone (IMI) tolerant-rice. This material is some years away from marketing.
Roundup Resistant Crops
Glyphosate (Roundup) resistance has been field tested in wheat, sugar beets, lettuce, and potatoes, and most of these crops will probably be available by the year 2000.
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