The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and Helix, an Agroceres group company, partnered to launch the first transgenic corn, fully developed in Brazil.
Corn cultivars were improved with the BTMAX corn transgenic event, which is highly effective against fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), considered the primary pest of corn, and sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis).
The BTMAX transgenic event, obtained with the addition of a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), is the result of a 100% national public-private partnership between Embrapa and Helix and was unanimously approved by CTNBio (National Technical Commission on Biosafety) in June 2022.
With laboratory and field results conducted in regions relevant to the corn agribusiness in Brazil, ″BTMAX was as efficient as the best technology on the market and did not show any damage to the leaves or the plant cartridge, even in regions with high fall armyworm pressure,″ explained Cesar Moisés Camilo, a researcher at Helix.
Still, according to the researcher, even with the dilution of the BTMAX corn leaf in an artificial diet 25 times, 70% of the caterpillars were dead in seven days.
At the end of 14 days, BTMAX eliminated 99% of the caterpillars, with the remaining 1% not completing the cycle, ″a very important point for managing protein resistance,″ the Helix researcher stressed.
″The BTMAX corn does not show cross-resistance with the proteins present in commercial events that already show a break in resistance. BTMAX presents itself as a powerful product in the field, with high expression, representing a new mode of action and technology. This is why technology is so disruptive,″ Camilo said.
Urbano Ribeiral Júnior, Financial Director of the Agroceres Group, the good performance of the transgenic event is explained by the Brazilian biodiversity itself.
″With the results of this partnership, we demonstrate that there is a differential, which is to use Brazilian biodiversity in a specific way to solve problems of our pests in cultivated plants and pests of the tropical world,″ he commented.
Cesar Moisés Camilo
Urbano Ribeiral Júnior
″I believe this focus on tropical agriculture already makes the product viable. I believe, this is the reason for the success of the first event, BTMAX, and other technologies to come,″ he added.
″With the unanimous approval of the event by CTNBio, a world reference in technical excellence, we initiated the deregulation process in other countries in June this year. We still do not have a forecast for the technology’s commercial launch, which depends a lot on the regulatory part. It is approved in Brazil, but as it is in the export chain, we still need more approvals,″ the director said.
Newton Portilho Carneiro, a researcher at Embrapa Maize and Sorghum and leader of the project developed in partnership with Helix, is emphatic: ″The product is very good. The plant, with the BTMAX event, is not attacked by the caterpillar″.
For Frederico Durães, General Manager of Embrapa Maize and Sorghum, ″Embrapa has produced intelligent and creative initiatives and movements for a transition from the first generation to advanced generations of bioinputs, fueled by biotechnological pathways, synthetic biology, gene editing, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence, in strategic alliances and functional agreements,″ he explained.
Newton Portilho Carneiro
″In theory and practice, we demonstrate the integration of knowledge, technology and product to add value and impacts for the farmer and tropical agriculture,″ the general manager concluded.
(Editing by Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages)