August 8, 2019 / 1:54 PM / 11 days ago

Argentina's Bioceres gets USDA nod for drought-resistant soybean seed

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Argentine biotechnology company Bioceres said on Thursday that it received a green light from the United States Department of Agriculture for a variety of drought-resistant soybean.

A representative for Bioceres told Reuters the company plans to hold off on the commercialization of the soybean seed known as HB4 until it receives consent from China, a major importer, expected by the end of 2020.

The USDA approved this month the HB4 drought and water-stress resistant seed which that Bioceres developed jointly with U.S. company Arcadia, according to the company representative and a USDA document seen by Reuters.

Bioceres, which already has an endorsement for the seed variety from Brazil and Argentina, said it is the first time that a company in Latin America has received approval from the United States for a new seed variety.

“This event is unique because large multi-nationals do not have this technology,” the representative said.

Argentina, Brazil and the United States are the largest soy producers in the world, while China is the largest importer, making approval there key for the expansion of Bioceres’ product.

When China approves the seed variety, “we will penetrate 15 to 25 percent of all soy acreage in Argentina (with HB4) in a period of three to five years,” Federico Trucco, chief executive of Bioceres, told Reuters in June.

According to Argentina’s Rosario Grains Exchange, 17.3 million hectares have been planted with soy in the current 2018-19 harvest, and production is expected to reach 56.5 million tonnes.China bought 92% of the 3.67 million tonnes of soybeans exported from Argentina in 2018. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bill Trott)

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