Be Prepared

The message was clear at a recent meeting of cotton growers last month — get ready for Bollgard II. At the recent Trait Talk Live Forum in Memphis hosted by CropLife® magazine sister publication Cotton Grower®, industry representatives urged growers to take advantage of the time between now and the 2010 season to try some of the Bollgard II varieties on their farms. The impending change will be important for retailers to understand and help growers deal with over the next two years.

Bollgard’s phase-out after the 2009 season after more than a decade of use was part of the plan from its original registration, explained Walt Mullins, technical manager for cotton traits with Monsanto.

From a stewardship standpoint, Monsanto wants to replace the single gene Bollgard with a double gene Bollgard in concert with EPA. Part of EPA’s allowance of Bollgard in the beginning was that Monsanto would develop a two-gene product to replace it.

“All of the science would suggest that two genes are better than one, particularly when it comes to resistance and resistance management,” continued Mullins. “The reason for that is that if you have two genes working on the same insect at the same time, it is highly unlikely that an individual is going to contain resistance to both traits at the same time.”

In anticipation of the change, Don Parker, manager, integrated pest management, National Cotton Council, urged growers to start getting ready now.

“Growers need to go ahead and prepare for the registration change now, and start finding some varieties that work well on their farms that are dual-gene traits,” said Parker.

A positive outgrowth of the change to Bollgard II is the concept of “natural refuge.” A five-year joint project between Monsanto and the EPA looked carefully at the idea that the two-gene technology would naturally require less refuge than single-gene technology. EPA determined that growers who plant 100% Bollgard II cotton would not need to plant a non-Bt refuge, Mullins explained.

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