Monsanto announced it holds "high hopes" for its new biotech corn seed, adding that it expects good demand next spring for its YieldGard Rootworm seed corn.

A report by Agriculture Online quotes Monsanto spokesman Bryan Hurley as saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to give the product final approval soon, enabling the seed to reach the market for planting next year.

"The rootworm problem itself is growing. We expect demand to outstrip supply," Hurley said. The report notes that Monsanto has not yet set pricing for the new seed, but said it will be competitive to chemical treatments, which run about US$14 an acre.

Monsanto expects to introduce enough seed for about 1m acres of corn next spring, compared with total estimated acreage treated for rootworm of 16m acres.

By Aaron Priel, correspondent