HOEGEMEYER Hybrids, a regional seed company based in Hooper, NE, appears to have found a way to prevent cross contamination of pollen from genetically modified hybrids.

The invention, which the company has named PuraMaize, uses a nonreciprocal cross sterility system to prevent corn plants from being pollinated by stray pollen from other fields. Any hybrid plant containing the PuraMaize gene system will accept only pollen from corn plants with the same genotype and cannot be fertilized by corn pollen that originates from neighboring yellow dent hybrids.

The discovery has specific applications for corn produced for specialty starches, cornflakes and other corn-based products that some markets require to be free of genetically modified organisms.

Most compelling is that Hoegemeyer says its system can be bred into virtually any elite hybrid with no yield drag. If there's a catch, it may be that PuraMaize is a protective system, not a way to prevent pollen spread. To get PuraMaize protection in a particular hybrid, growers probably will have to pay a premium. Hoegemeyer plans to license PuraMaize. For more information, visit www.corn1.com.