German chemical giant Bayer’s short-stature genetically-modified (GM) corn has been approved for use in the USA by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), World Grain reported.

“This plant may be safely grown and bred in the United States,” the USDA was quoted as saying in a notice on 6 June, the report on the same date said.

The USDA said it had reviewed the plant to see if it posed an increased plant pest risk compared to unmodified corn plants.

Bayer CropScience modified the corn plant to reduce gibberellic acid, a plant growth hormone, to produce shorter plants and reduce the likelihood of lodging (stem buckling), the report said.

APHIS ruled the plant, which is about one-third the size of current varieties, was “unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk compared to other cultivated corn plants.”

As the plant was shorter than a typical corn stalk, it could better withstand strong winds that damage crops and also made it easier for farmers to apply chemicals during growing season, the government added.

Bayer was reported as saying it still needed approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and importing countries before it could launch the corn in the USA, something it hoped to do in the next few years.

Bayer had estimated sales of short-stature corn in North America could reach €1bn (US$1.07bn), World Grain wrote.