By Ken Roseboro
Published: December 27, 2011
Category: Non-GMO Initiatives
New corn hybrids containing a trait that allows the plant to block pollen from neighboring genetically modified corn are available for farmers planting non-GMO and organic corn this year.
Kelley, Iowa-based Blue River Hybrids plans to offer three corn varieties, 47PM37cnv, 58PM36cnv, and 71PM50cnv that contain the PuraMaize gene-blocking trait.
PuraMaize is a natural gene blocking system which blocks fertilization from GM pollen by favoring its own PuraMaize pollen.
With increasing acreage of GM corn in the US, organic and non-GMO farmers face challenges keeping their corn pure from GM pollen. GMO contamination can cause farmers to lose premium prices paid for organic and non-GMO corn.
Tom Hogemeyer, a corn breeder with the University of Nebraska and Cerrado Natural Systems Group, developed the PuraMaize system using a trait called gametophytic incompatibility (GA1S) that he bred into yellow dent corn varieties using conventional plant breeding.
Other corn breeders, including Frank Kutka with the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, are also breeding organic and non-GMO corn varieties using GA1S. (See The Organic & Non-GMO Report, July/August 2011).
Blue River Hybrids has been field testing the PuraMaize system for the past four years, says company president Maury Johnson. Field trials show that PuraMaize eliminates GMO contamination, according to company sales literature.
However Johnson cautions PuraMaize is not a silver bullet. “This is a tool for the non-GMO or organic grower to use. But there are other things farmers will need to do (to reduce contamination), such as cleaning out combines and trucks.”
One of the challenges was to develop PuraMaize hybrids that also produce good yields for farmers. “It’s one thing to do the breeding work but you also need good hybrids that will perform for farmers,” Johnson says.
For more information, visit www.blueriverorgseed.com.
© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, December/January 2012