Monsanto announced recently that the Environmental Protection Agency has granted a non-expiring registration for its Bollgard II or second-generation, insect-protected cotton technology.

The St. Louis-based company said cotton producers planting Bollgard II will be required to continue planting a non-sprayed 5-percent refuge or a sprayed 20-percent refuge of cotton that does not contain the Bollgard II genes – at least for now.

“Extension of this registration is good news for U.S. cotton growers and assures that they will continue to have access to this valuable technology,” said Paul Callaghan, cotton trait manager for Monsanto, in a press release issued by Monsanto shortly after EPA announced its decision.

The registrations for both the Bollgard and Bollgard II technologies were scheduled to expire this fall. EPA earlier extended the Bollgard registration through the 2009-growing season.

Bollgard II is the second-generation of insect-protected cotton developed by Monsanto. The technology contains two different insect-control genes, compared with the single insect-control gene in its predecessor Bollgard, and provides growers with benefits such as a broader spectrum of insect control and improved efficacy against damaging worm pests.

Bollgard II cotton produces both the Cry2Ab2 and Cry1Ac proteins. Each protein provides control of cotton bollworm and tobacco budworm, which gives Bollgard II dual efficacy for both pests. The two-gene system also reduces the chance that insect resistance will develop.

Monsanto said growers will be required to continue key stewardship practices, including a comprehensive insect resistance management program for Bollgard II cotton.

“The decision on the natural refuge system has been divorced from this decision,” said a Monsanto specialist. “The scientific advisory panel that had been convened to consider our request has asked for additional information.

“So we think it will be later rather than sooner before we receive a decision on allowing the natural refuge to serve as a source for susceptible moths in an insect resistance management plan.”

Cotton farmers first planted Bollgard cotton in 1996, and Bollgard II cotton varieties have been on the market since 2003. Monsanto licenses both traits to cottonseed companies to use in leading cotton varieties. For the 2007 season, there will be an expanded number of cottonseed varieties with Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex cotton traits that have performed very well in university trials across the Cotton Belt, the company said.

For more information on Monsanto and biotechnology, see: www.monsanto.com.

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