Monsanto announced yesterday that it is a major step closer to delivering the world's first-ever drought-tolerant corn product to farmers.

In the fourth-annual update of its Research and Development pipeline, the company announced that its first- generation drought-tolerant corn has moved to the fourth — and final — phase before an anticipated market launch early next decade. Reports indicate that the anticipated market launch will be by 2012.

The company also announced that it has submitted the product to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for regulatory clearance.

Drought-tolerant corn is designed to provide farmers yield stability during periods when water supply is scarce by mitigating the effects of drought — or water stress — within a corn plant. Field trials for drought-tolerant corn conducted last year in the Western Great Plains have met or exceeded the 6 to 10 percent target yield enhancement, or about 7 to 10 bushels per acre, over the average yield of 70 to 130 bushels per acre in some of the key drought-prone areas in the United States.

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Source: Monsanto