The agricultural biotechnology companies that develop genetically modified seeds (GMO) have united to launch a broad, new initiative to provide accurate information and answer the toughest questions about GMOs and how our food is grown. GMO Answers is produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta.
This week’s ZimmCast features an interview with Fran Castle Rowland, senior manager of global brand management and media relations for BASF, about the purpose of GMOAnswers, the questions they have received so far, and just how they hope being more transparent will help educate the public about the importance of biotechnology in food production.
On-air broadcasting (including news, markets, weather and/or special reports)
Leadership in broadcast programming, promotion and marketing at station/network
Community involvement and leadership
Broadcast Council members with five years or less experience are eligible for the Horizon Award. Nominate a deserving Broadcast Council member or yourself for either award by emailing Member Services & Event Coordinator Aaron Corbet (email@example.com) by August 23. Each individual nominated is reviewed for eligibility and then asked to provide more information about themselves in an application.
The NAFB Awards Committee will determine the winner of each category. Winners will be announced at the Awards Luncheon on Friday, November 15, during the NAFB Convention.
The agricultural biotechnology companies that develop genetically modified seeds (GMO) are coming together to launch a broad, new initiative to provide accurate information and answer the toughest questions about GMOs and how our food is grown. GMO Answers is a new conversation, public Q&A, and central online resource for information on GMOs, their background, use in agriculture, and research and data in one easy-to-access public resource for the first time.
As the public discussion on GMOs continues, the scientists who develop biotech seeds along with farmers who grow them want to make information about GMOs easier to find and understand.
GMO Answers is produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Together, their commitment to openness and access to information is outlined in the GMO Answers five core principles.
Syngenta has announced a three-year commitment to contribute $1 to the renewable fuels industry for every acre planted with Enogen trait technology. The initiative, that began with this year’s growing season, will help support America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and promote the benefits of renewable fuels grown in America.
“Renewable fuels are an essential part of the American energy equation, benefiting consumers, farmers and American energy independence,” said David Witherspoon, Head of Renewable Fuels at Syngenta. “Ethanol, whether from corn or other biomass sources, is an energy source for today and tomorrow driving economic growth and innovation.”
Syngenta is currently focused on increasing the productivity of renewable fuels made from traditional and non-traditional feedstocks such as corn. The Enogen trait technology is a biotech output trait designed specifically for ethanol production. The corn expresses alpha amylase enzyme directly in the corn kernel and replaces liquid alpha amylase enzyme. According to Syngenta, the unique enzyme present in Enogen grain facilitates a simpler, more efficient ethanol production process helping to maximize the productivity of every gallon produced, and thus the profitability of the ethanol plant.
By helping to create savings in electricity, natural gas and water usage, Enogen corn also has the potential to help an ethanol plant reduce its carbon footprint. Syngenta says that for a 100-million gallon plant, efficiency improvements by Enogen can save annually:
More than 68 million gallons of water
Nearly 10 million KWh of electricity
More than 350 billion BTUs of natural gas
More than 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions
Enogen corn represents a unique value proposition for local communities as well. Enogen corn hybrids are planted under contract with an ethanol plant licensed to use the technology. In exchange for high-quality grain and robust alpha amylase enzyme, ethanol plants pay an average 40 cent per bushel premium to local farmers for their Enogen grain, an economic boost that could mean as much as $80 to $90 an acre for some Midwestern farmers.
The opening reception for the 130th American Seed Trade Association annual convention was held at the Grand Ole Opry and the entertainment was provided by an up-and-coming country artist who is now starting to get so popular that he is having less time for his job as a Syngenta Seeds sales rep. Not coincidentally, the reception was sponsored by Syngenta Seeds.
He grew up on a dairy farm, studied Ag Econ at Purdue, and worked as an intern with Golden Harvest prior to its purchase by Syngenta Seeds, but he always loved music. “I sang with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club and I just had a passion for country music,” which Levi said led him to put a band together and start singing at county fairs.
Last night was the first time that Levi, with his sister Lauren and brother-in-law, played the Grand Ole Opry but with songs like “Born to Farm” it probably won’t be the last! “Corn and beans, green and red machines, he was born to farm!”
The first product from Syngenta’s acquisition of Pasteuria Bioscience, Clariva, has been launched and will be available in the U.S. next year. Syngenta announced today the launch of CLARIVA™, a proprietary seed treatment nematicide based on the Pasteuria technology acquired in 2012.
CLARIVA consists of naturally occurring soil bacteria with a unique, direct mode of action on nematodes: microscopic worm-shaped soil organisms, which cause significant damage to all major agricultural crops.
CLARIVA will be available in the USA for the 2014 growing season. It will be combined with other leading Syngenta seed care compounds as a complete solution for soybeans. Further registrations across major crops worldwide are planned.
Syngenta has unveiled its new crop research facility at the company’s RTP Innovation Center, located in North Carolina. The $72 million Advanced Crop Lab allows company researchers to simulate any agricultural climate and precisely measure plant inputs. This technology will help farmers grow more food with fewer resources.
“Our new Advanced Crop Lab allows us to bring together components of all research where we can create environments for multiple crops from multiple regions — simultaneously,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, head of biotechnology for Syngenta. “Individual controls of temperature, light and carbon dioxide levels, as well as humidity control in many growth chambers, provide tailored environments that allow our talented researchers to work on specific grower challenges. In addition to innovative facilities, being in RTP, we have access to some of the greatest scientific minds to help farmers grow more from less.”
The research facility houses 30 climate-controlled growth environments in all-glass greenhouses. Syngenta can simulate conditions from Iowa in one room and from Africa next door. This flexibility will allow company researchers to focus on developing agricultural traits that optimize crop yields, use resources efficiently and resist various stresses that farmers face every day across the globe.
“Syngenta invests more than $1.25 billion annually to directly focus on solving challenges for farmers. As we consider global food security, the research conducted in our new crop lab will be essential to meet that demand,” said Vern Hawkins, Syngenta North America region director.
Design elements of the new facility include insulated glass walls that provide a virtually shadowless indoor environment, a liquid “fertigation” system to feed and water the plants and an automated roof-washing system. The building is Green Globes Certified, which recognizes the company’s sustainable construction processes. In constructing the new facility, Syngenta reclaimed a former industrial site and recycled more than 85 percent of those materials.
“Roswell Garst’s commitment to customers – to be a trusted advisor in addition to a seed dealer – is the very essence of what the Syngenta Seed Advisor network embodies,” said Lori Thomas, customer marketing manager for the dealer channel commercial unit for Syngenta in North America. “Even though the Garst name won’t have the same market presence, the integrity, tradition and history of the company will continue to live on.” Thomas and her husband, Mike, were Garst Seed Advisors for 10 years.
Founded as Garst & Thomas Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1930, the Garst brand has a rich history of bringing many innovative corn solutions to market, from developing herbicide-tolerant hybrids, including the first IMI-corn, to offering European Corn Borer (Bt) control and herbicide tolerance together in one corn hybrid, to transcending borders and taking the new technology to farmers in other countries, including the former Soviet Union.
Since Syngenta acquired the Garst brand in 2004, the company has focused on building a diverse genetic portfolio, using the genetics from the Garst, Golden Harvest and NK® brand breeding programs and incorporating the market-leading line-up of Agrisure® traits. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced the decision to rebrand the existing Garst and Golden Harvest corn seed brands and launch a unified Golden Harvest brand stemmed from ongoing efforts to strengthen and grow the network of Syngenta Seed Advisors.
A new logo and numbering system for Golden Harvest hybrids will be in place for summer 2013 trials and the 2014 planting season. “The new logo brings elements from the Garst legacy as well as the Golden Harvest legacy,” Lori says, stressing that growers who have counted on Garst seed to maximize their yields will still have access to the same high-quality genetics under the Golden Harvest name through their Syngenta Seed Advisor.
Growers looking for a more profitable corn crop should consider planting ENOGEN corn. Ethanol producers looking for more gallons from a bushel of corn should look to farmers growing ENOGEN corn. I learned about the emerging corn trait designed specifically for ethanol production from Jeff Carver who is the ENOGEN Accounts Manager for Syngenta, when we spoke during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.
Carver explained that the trait is expressed in the endosperm so it works really well in the ethanol production process. He said the competitiveness of the hybrid is great for the farmer as well. “It transcends value across both the ethanol plant and the direct payback to the farmer.”
So why is this trait unique? Carver said that one difference is that it is an end-use trait that is expressed in the endosperm. During the hydrolysis of the protein, it allows for a very rapid viscosity break. This allows the plant to reduce the amount of water used in the process. With that, based on market conditions, the plant can either push additional through-put through the plant or actually slow the plant down to produce more ethanol.
So in a “corn kernel” you’re actually producing more ethanol from the same bushel of corn. Carver also discussed the benefits of the trait for the production of dried distillers grains and corn oil.
The ENOGEN program is designed around ethanol production and there are trials currently underway. There are still a few acres left for growers interested in participating this spring. All growers who are interested in joining the current or next trial should contact Jeff now.
Fighting weed resistance is becoming more and more important and one way Syngenta has been working on it is with their Resistance Fighter of the Year Program. Here’s one of this year’s winners, Scott Stallbaumer from Saint Marys, KS. I met him in the Syngenta exhibit at the National Farm Machinery Show. The other winner is Scott Holder from Boyle, MS.
Syngenta is once again honoring two outstanding leaders in the fight against herbicide resistance through the Resistance Fighter™ of the Year program. Over the past five months, many worthy people have been nominated as advisors committed to preventing the spread of resistant weeds. These individuals have continually supported this effort by providing growers with the information and tools they need to stay on top of all forms of herbicide resistance in their fields.
Now in its fourth year, the Resistance Fighter of the Year program recognizes those dedicated individuals who strive to protect America’s farmlands from herbicide resistance. Eligible recipients include farm managers, retailers, consultants and county extension agents who have successfully implemented resistance management programs with growers in their area.
A big favorite at the National Farm Machinery Show is always the Championship Tractor Pull done in conjunction with the show … for the fans and the competitors alike.
“This is what we look forward to every winter,” Doug Theobald from Shelbyville, Ind., who took 3rd place in the 6,200-lb. two-wheel drive Super Modified Trucks class on one of the nights of the show, told Chuck. “The crowd is amazing. Syngenta backing the event and the pull means a lot to the competitors. It’s what we strive for all year, to get qualified to come here.
John Strickland from Clinton, NC, who on the same evening won third place in the 8,000-lb. Super Stock Alcohol Tractors division, echoed Doug’s sentiments, adding that he’s very impressed with the farm show as well. “Even if you’re not in the farm or agriculture trade it’s still really amazing to walk around and see what there is here and what’s offered and the technology to make feeding the country possible.”
We talk a lot in agriculture about feeding a growing world population but Syngenta and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) brought that broad message home during this week’s CSS 2012 and Seed Expo in Chicago.
“We tend to think about hunger as being something that happens somewhere else, but it happens in our own backyard – it happens here in Chicago,” said David Morgan, Syngenta North America regional director. “We partnered here with ASTA at the event and we’re giving matching contributions to donations given for Chicago efforts on hunger relief.”
Syngenta was giving away backpacks at the Seed Expo, as well as some cool knit gloves with tech fingers (to operate touch screens) and collecting lots of donations. ASTA pledged to match donations up to $1500 and Syngenta matched up to $3000 – all going to support Nourish for Knowledge, a program of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
*Post Update*Syngenta reports that they collected over $1600 during the Seed Expo, which was matched by $1600 from Syngenta and $1500 from ASTA – for a grand total donation of more than $4700 to help feed Chicago area children. What a great effort!
I had the chance to chat with David about why Syngenta is one of ASTA’s strategic partners and the products they have and are developing to help increase food security worldwide.
I spoke with Scott Erickson, Soybean Genetics Portfolio Manager for Syngenta. He shared how they are tackling all the things that can rob yields during the growing season and save farmers time and money.
“Well, we work on the seed part of the business which would be NK brand soybean varieties. Our focus is how do we put together the best genetic package that can deliver the most yield potential to todays soybean growers.”
“A lot of soybean farmers know CruiserMaxx Beans from Syngenta. That’s a registered insecticide and fungicide that we sold under the CruiserMaxx label, but now we have also launched a new fungicide focused on root strength called Vibrance. Soybeans from Syngenta this year, if purchased with treatment on them, will all come with CruiserMaxx Beans plus Vibrance. That is a great way to get the seedling off to a great start.”
I also sat down with Chuck Lee, who is head of the corn division for Syngenta. He shared his enthusiasm for a great new product that will create drought tolerance in corn fields all season long.
“So, obviously we have lots invested in corn. We have lots of exciting things just this year that are coming out in the corn space. And probably one of the most exciting is our Agrisure Artesian technology. It’s a drought tolerant technology. It provides season long drought protection. It has really been an effective trait. We have more than 1,000 farmer strip trials out this year and in those strip trials they have increased yields up to 15% in moderate and severe drought environments.”
A veteran farm manager from Illinois has been named Syngenta’s in North America Professional Farm Manager of the Year for 2012. Brent Bidner, accredited farm manager and vice president of Hertz Farm Management, Inc., has been providing professional farm management services for Hertz for 24 years. The Monticello, Ill. resident manages more than 18,000 acres across Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Colorado.
Bidner’s approach to managing clients’ land includes taking care of the land the same way he would if he owned it himself. “I look at it as a long-term, not just a short-term, investment,” said Bidner. “My goal is to leave it for the next generation in better shape than it was when I took over management of the property.”
His careful management and innovative approach has paid off for long-term client, Kenway Farm. “Through a number of improvements, Brent has increased our corn production nearly 12 percent and soybean production by 10 percent when you compare pre-management averages to recent averages,” said Paul Gorden, president of Kenway Farm in Blue Mound, Ill.
“Professional farm managers play a crucial role in agriculture today,” said Brent Rockers, district manager for Syngenta. “At Syngenta, our goal is always to help farmers increase yield and return on investment by growing more with less. Dedicated farm managers like Brent are a key partner working with us to accomplish the exact same thing for their clients.”
In addition to honoring Bidner, Syngenta made a $1,000 donation in his name to the 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, Ill.
Syngenta’s Thrive magazine is now available in a digital format, an online flipbook. You can find it on the FarmAssist website.
“I am confident this move will help us in our quest to give even more ag professionals the information they need to succeed in today’s complex marketplace,” said Wendell Calhoun, Syngenta communications lead for Thrive. “Through interesting articles and eye-catching images, we will continue to update our readers on the latest Syngenta technologies and need-to-know trends that may impact their bottom lines.”
The current issue of Thrive covers a wide range of topics, including the growing importance of U.S. soybeans globally (“Ode to Soy”) and the Syngenta Leadership at Its Best® program, which helps train growers and other industry professionals to advocate effectively for agriculture (“Leading Out Loud”). In addition, the issue relays practical advice from the field on topics ranging from “Root Wellness” to the importance of “Clean Machines.” It also enables readers to peak into the 2013 season to see which new offerings are available (“Best in Show”), what impact the November elections may have on ag policies (“Election Impact”), and how Syngenta is balancing production and supply with projected demand to deliver superior products to customers when they need them (“A Complex Equation“).
The website features several documentaries: “Atrazine and Water,” “Atrazine and Safety,” and “Atrazine and Food Safety”. The goal of the campaign is for people to watch, learn and decide for themselves if they believe atrazine is safe. As an added incentive, if people go and watch the videos this month, Syngenta will donate $5 to the Iowa Food Bank Association through the end of September.
Ann said they wanted to correct some misinformation that’s out there with the public about atrazine. So the company engaged some academic experts over the last couple of years and released their benefits studies last November. With this information in their arsenal, they decided to turn them into mini documentaries with a focus of some of the benefits of atrazine that many don’t know about.
For example, atrazine helps minimize soil erosion and helps to keep the soil from collapsing into waterways. Ann said it also protects the environment and helps to foster habitat development. It also helps to increase the yield of many crops including corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Lastly, Ann highlighted that with the increase in yields, growers can help to feed a growing population.
Now it is time for you to decide. You can learn more about atrazine by watching the mini-documentaries (and helping those hungry get fed) and by listening to Cindy’s interview with Ann: Saving the Oasis
Farmers, the original environmentalists. Continuing the tradition and using good science to do so.
Syngenta today announced the launch of a new website, “Saving the Oasis,” featuring three short documentaries that tell the story of how atrazine helps modern farmers protect precious water and soil resources while aiding the environment and economy. The site also contains information about other Syngenta efforts that help farmers preserve water.
During the recent NAFB convention, AgriTalk recorded a panel discussion about new research on Atrazine. This herbicide, which has been on the market for more than 50 years is very beneficial from an economic and environmental standpoint in the production of corn, sorghum and sugar cane according to this new research.
I interviewed one of those researchers, Dr. Mike Owen, during the NAFB Trade Talk in the Syngenta booth. He says his role was to investigate the issue of herbicide resistance. He says the information basically reinforces what most people already knew about the impact of using glyphosate resistant crops with glyphosate to the exclusion of a lot of the other tools in the agricultural toolbox. He says farmers are still in denial about this issue. They need to diversity in weed management! You can find a number of links on this subject posted by Dr. Owen here.
According to a release from Syngenta (pdf) on this subject:
U.S. consumers and society benefit from atrazine and other triazine herbicides by up to $4.8 billion per year, due to increased yield as well as decreased producer costs and reduced soil erosion, according to new studies released today in Kansas City.
In addition, the U.S. economy benefits from atrazine and other triazine herbicides by as much as $22 billion over a five-year period. Benefits to farmers and consumers from the triazine herbicides include increased corn, sorghum and sugar cane crop yields, lower weed-control costs, significantly reduced soil erosion and less carbon released into the atmosphere. Atrazine and the triazine herbicides account for as many as 48,000 American jobs in corn production alone.
You can watch the AgriTalk program with all the researchers, as they share highlights of the new data, documenting atrazine’s impact on weed management, crop yields and jobs.