CNtBio approves new drought and herbicide tolerant soyabean seed in Brazil

Brazilian bio-security agency CTNBio has approved a new soyabean seed that is resistant to both drought and the widely used glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate herbicides.

“HB4 is the first soyabean transgenic trait that goes beyond the traditional package for herbicide tolerance and insect resistance,” said Francisco Soares, CEO of Tropical Melhoramiento & Genetica (TMG).

The HB4 seed was developed by TMG and Verdeca, a joint venture between US biotechnology firm Arcadia Biosciences and Argentine chemicals company Bioceres.

TMG and Verdeca said on 24 May that CTNBio’s approval, which would allow the planting of HB4 soyabean varieties in Brazil, would be followed by a 30-day public comment period, after which a definitive approval document would be issued.

“The commercial launch of the HB4 trait in Brazil is contingent upon approvals by the main soyabean grain importing countries, which are ongoing, and by a variety of registration processes,” Verdeca said.

TMG sales respresentative Luiz Gustavo Kalinowski told Reuters that the new HB4 seed was the only one in Brazil resistant to drought and the two weed killers.

More than 34M of the world’s soyabean hectares were grown in Brazil and South American regions had experienced significant drought conditions in the past two seasons, Verdeca said.

“This novel trait will enable soyabean growers to protect yields under stressful climatic conditions,” said Verdeca general manager Martin Mariani Venture. “The deregulation of this technology in Brazil is another significant step for the successful commercialisation of HB4 technology in South America.”

Verdeca said the trait had already been approved in Argentina and by the US Food & Drug Administration. Regulatory approvals were currently under consideration by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as Bolivia, China, Paraguay and Uruguay.

According to a 22 February Global Agricultural Information Network report from the USDA, soyabean output for 2018/19 was forecast at 115.5M tonnes, down from a record 120.3M tonnes a year ago, with yields declining to 3.2 tonnes/ha.