Rootworm Trait Advances

Duracade Gets the Nod From China, Still Awaits EU Approval

Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
Agrisure Duracade hybrids will continue to be sold by a limited number of seed companies for the 2018 season, including Golden Harvest. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Syngenta's rootworm trait, Agrisure Duracade, is one step closer to full commercialization after receiving import approval from China Monday morning.

However, the trait is still awaiting approval from the European Union (EU), which will limit the company's ability to widen Duracade's marketing area for now.

"Our plan is to steward the grain in a similar fashion as we have in the past," Syngenta communications representative Shane Dailey told DTN. There is no update on a timeline for EU approval, he added.

Agrisure Duracade grain has been strictly stewarded since its limited commercial release in 2014, in order to keep it out of the commercial grain stream. Growers can only buy it from a handful of seed companies and are required to sign agreements to route it to approved feedlots, feed mills or ethanol plants or to feed it on farm.

While this "grain-use marketing" program will continue in 2018, Syngenta says it is working to expand Duracade's footprint in the meantime, according to a company news release.

"With this approval, we are working to identify additional accepting locations, offering even more opportunities to market Agrisure Duracade grain," David Hollinrake, president of Syngenta Seeds, stated in the release. "Moving forward, growers can expect expanded access to the full depth and breadth of our genetic portfolio with more choice and exciting new hybrids that offer elite genetics plus the latest in corn rootworm control technology," he added.

Currently, Agrisure Duracade hybrids are available through Golden Harvest and NK seed sellers as well as distributors of Catalyst, Innotech and Phoenix brand seed, and a number of independent seed company licensees, the release noted.

Duracade contains eCry3.1Ab, a Bt protein targeting the western corn rootworm. It is only sold as a pyramided rootworm product, which means the hybrids always contain another rootworm Bt protein (mCry3A). The western corn rootworm has been a challenge to growers because of its ability to develop some level of resistance to every Bt protein on the market, including the Duracade protein eCry3.1Ab.

Agrisure Duracade has been deregulated in the U.S. since 2013, but the trait faced an uphill battle to full commercialization without import approvals from the key markets of China and the EU.

Nonetheless, Syngenta chose to a limited commercial launch with strict stewardship agreements in 2014. That decision came after the company faced a major legal battle over its decision to fully commercialize another trait, Agrisure Viptera, in 2011 before Chinese import approvals were obtained.

China began rejecting grain with the Viptera trait in 2013, and the company now faces a series of lawsuits from farmers who said they were unable to sell their grain as a result.

You can find the Syngenta news release on China's recent import approval of Duracade here: http://bit.ly/….

You can find a description of the stewardship agreements Duracade growers sign with Syngenta here: http://bit.ly/….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee

(PS/AG)