Monsanto Company has announced it has submitted documents and extensive research data for SmartStax, a new insect-protection and weed control platform in corn, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

With the submission, SmartStax becomes the first stacked product with multiple effective genes against both lepidopteran and corn rootworm pests to reach this regulatory step.

The product remains on track for commercial launch in 2010 pending appropriate regulatory approvals, the company said.

SmartStax features multiple traits designed to control corn insect pests, both above and below ground, while offering farmers two choices of herbicide tolerance in one seed.

Specifically, the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) proteins at work in SmartStax deliver multiple modes of actions to control both above and below ground pests, enabling an opportunity to lower corn refuge acres. The SmartStax platform is anticipated to be the first set of technologies to enable such a reduction in corn refuge for both above and below ground pests.

This new platform is expected to have a market opportunity that could top more than 105 million acres globally, with 60 million to 65 million acres in the United States alone.

Monsanto has submitted a request to the EPA to reduce refuge requirements for SmartStax to 5 percent in the northern Corn Belt and 20 percent in Southern states where cotton is planted.

“The technologies at work in SmartStax will increase value on the farm through more thorough control of insects and weeds and from the significant upside potential through refuge reduction,” said Carl Casale, executive vice president, strategy and operations, Monsanto Company. “All totaled, we estimate the SmartStax hybrid system could provide an estimated yield benefit of an additional 4 to 10 percent on the farm.”

SmartStax is being jointly developed and registered by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences.

SmartStax is on track to become commercially available for the 2010 growing season in the United States pending appropriate regulatory approvals. SmartStax has also been submitted to Japanese regulatory agencies for review.