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New Wash. corn plant made to influence global crop

A new agricultural plant near Othello in Eastern Washington is breeding highly specialized corn for the huge world-wide seed company Monsanto. The laboratories and growing facilities are slated to help the company more quickly distil the genetics of corn to get top characteristics to market.

Seed companies are constantly in a race to make better corn. The new Monsanto facility is 15-thousand-square-feet. And it’s in these labs that new kinds of corn will be conceived. Brett Sowers is the plant manager for Monsanto’s new facility in Othello. He says this new corn they produce will look similar, but …

“If can better use nitrogen fertilizer or even yield the same using fewer inputs like less nitrogen and less water things like that.”

Sowers says they’re hoping to produce corn that is more resistant to diseases, insects and needs less nutrients. He says it will take about six to 10 years before anything they’re working on now is in farmers’ fields.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.