Issue No. 2, Article 2/April 4, 2008
Pioneer's Optimum AcreMax 1 Insect Protection--What Is It?
What do we know about Optimum AcreMax 1 Insect Protection? Not much. Many of us at universities learned about the proposed system at the same time as everyone else, so we can't answer most of the questions posed about it. However, I will point out one key phrase in all of the marketing pieces you probably have seen: Pending EPA approval. The Optimum AcreMax 1 Insect Protection system (in its simplest form, a refuge-in-the-bag for rootworm resistance management) has not been approved by the EPA. So for anyone considering their own refuge-in-a-bag for Bt corn in 2008: Don't--it's not legal.
Time will tell whether this proposed system passes the EPA's "acid test," which will require input from insect resistance management and rootworm experts. Until then, requirements for insect resistance management for rootworm Bt corn remain the same as they have been since 2003, when hybrids were approved for commercial use--20% non-rootworm Bt corn within the same field as the rootworm Bt corn, or in an adjacent field.
To Pioneer's credit, their informational publications (e.g., Walking Your Fields) include detailed explanations of current refuge guidelines and an overview of the Compliance Assurance Program. However, the timing of their announcement just before planting leaves a bit to be desired. There already is enough confusion about refuges and insect resistance management without adding a not-yet-approved approach for insect resistance management.
For a concise explanation of insect resistance management requirements for Bt corn for control of both rootworms and corn borers, visit the National Corn Growers Association Web site and look for "Importance of Managing Bt Technology.".--Kevin Steffey