Monsanto’s Brian Naber, U.S. commercial operations lead, has issued an open letter detailing the circumstances surrounding the St. Louis-based biotech giant’s decision to press pause on its 2018 commercialization of the highly-anticipate NemaStrike Technology seed treatment.
The open letter is posted in full below, with some editing:
“To our grower customers:
At Monsanto, we continuously work to bring growers like you a broad range of innovative products to help you sustainably grow your crops. When it comes to those products, you are also a key reason we make the decisions we do regarding how and when those products are made commercially available.
Recognizing that nematodes are one of the most troublesome pests farmers face every year, we developed our new seed treatment product, NemaStrike Technology, in an effort to help you battle this challenging pest. Products containing NemaStrike Technology have unprecedented potential to help farmers precisely and effectively protect their crops from those damaging nematodes.
In preparation for a full product launch, Monsanto conducted three years of field trials across the U.S. in corn, soybeans, and cotton. These trials have shown that NemaStrike Technology can provide a yield protection performance advantage over the competitive standard by 7 bu/A in corn, 3 bu/A in soybeans and 80 lbs. lint/acre in cotton. In addition, a robust Ground Breakers program was conducted in 2017 that encompassed over 400 growers who were able to safely use NemaStrike Technology and early results are positive. These real-world experiences reinforce the extensive evaluations done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prior to approval of Acceleron NemaStrike ST and demonstrate that the technology is effective and can be used safely when following label instructions.
However, as we prepared for the commercial launch for seed treated with Acceleron NemaStrike ST, there have been limited cases of skin irritation, including rashes, that appear to be associated with the handling and application of this seed treatment product. We are evaluating these cases, and in those we’ve examined so far, the proper use of required personal protective equipment (PPE) appears to be an important factor.
As a company, safety and stewardship are our top priorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we are pausing the 2018 commercialization of NemaStrike Technology while we evaluate the circumstances associated with these cases. We anticipate that we will continue the Ground Breakers program this spring.
We did not make this decision lightly, but you, our growers, as well as our employees and partners are the heart of our company. We want to ensure that all have the best possible experience with any of our products. We will provide additional information to you, including which alternative Acceleron Seed Applied Solutions products will be available in commercial products for the 2018 season.”