The protective value of transgenic corn hybrids
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Joe Lauer Extension Corn Agronomist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
3:00 – Total Time
0:17 – What is genetically modified corn
0:49 – Research shows crop protection
1:27 – Example of how transgenic crops work
1:55 – Implications of the research
2:32 – Future advances may boost yield
2:50 – Lead out
Finding the value in genetically modified corn, we’re visiting today with Joe Lauer, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon.
Sevie Kenyon: Joe, start out by giving us a quick definition of genetically modified corn.
Joe Lauer: The thing that has happened in the last 15 to 20 years or so has been the modification of corn and crops in general; with taking genes from different species and putting those genes into corn or other crops. But we’ve always modified genetically corn and other crops throughout time, it’s just that its different species now that we are making these crosses with.
Sevie Kenyon: And Joe you’ve been doing some economic analysis of genetically modified corn, what kinds of things have you found in your research?
Joe Lauer: So we’ve been able to basically compare then the performance of the transgenic corn with that of just regular normal corn. And I think one thing we have to keep in mind with all of this is that these traits, these transgenic traits do not add to yield. What they do is they protect yield. What we did with this particular study was just kind of summarize all this information and look at the performance of these different transgenic hybrids as well as the risk associated with these hybrids.
Sevie Kenyon: Can you give us an example of that protecting yield versus increasing yield?
Joe Lauer: Well for example, why would a Round-Up ready trait add to yield? It really doesn’t. Round-Up ready is just a way for the plant to detoxify a herbicide out there. And likewise why would Bt, aBacillus thuringiensis gene add to yield in a plant? What it’s really doing is protecting the crop from the corn borer that is out there.
Sevie Kenyon: Joe, what do you see as some of the implications of this study?
Joe Lauer: So, we have transgenic hybrids at the top of the trial in terms of performance, and we also have them at the bottom of the trial. So the overall yield and the interaction of these transgenes with the underlying germplasm is an important thing for growers to sort out as they make their decisions on buying a high performing hybrid. The most significant thing has been the reduction in risk that farmers experience with these. Every transgenic combination that we’ve seen reduces risk for the farmers and that’s important in agriculture.
Sevie Kenyon: Joe, do you envision these future transgenic technologies adding to yield instead of just protecting?
Joe Lauer: I think so, I think that with time we are going to get better at it and identifying those yield traits. I think one example of this is some of the drought or water optimized hybrids that are available now. These are hybrids that have been optimized for very difficult, low water types of conditions.
Sevie Kenyon: We have been visiting with Joe Lauer, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin and I am Sevie Kenyon.