EPA has extended the registration of Monsanto’s Bollgard or single-gene Bt cotton technology through the 2009 growing season, the company announced today.


An announcement about the registration of Monsanto’s Bollgard II or two-gene technology is expected later this summer. The registrations of both products were scheduled to expire in 2006.


“Extension of this registration ensures cotton farmers will continue to have access to Bollgard cotton varieties as they transition to second-generation Bollgard II insect protection,” said Matt Renkoski, Monsanto cotton marketing lead.


Bollgard II became commercially available in 2003 but has been available in a limited number of varieties. Representatives of the National Cotton Council and other farm organizations asked EPA to extend the Bollgard registration for no less than three years to allow time for development of Bollgard II varieties.


The transition from Bollgard to Bollgard II began in 1998 when Monsanto made the Bollgard II technology available to Scott, Miss.-based Delta & Pine Land Co. and then to other cottonseed companies to incorporate in their leading cotton varieties.


Monsanto has made separate requests to EPA to extend registrations for both insect-resistant technologies. EPA is expected to announce its decision on the extension of Bollgard II registration later this year.


Monsanto has asked a Scientific Advisory Panel convened by EPA to consider adopting a natural refuge program for Bollgard II varieties that would allow alternate plant hosts to provide susceptible target insects rather than a percentage of conventional cotton to help forestall the development of resistance in Bollgard II.


Bollgard II’s different insect-control genes can provide growers with a broader spectrum of insect control and increased defense against the development of insect resistance. Cotton farmers first planted Bollgard in 1996, and Bollgard II has been on the market since 2003.


Monsanto licenses both traits to cottonseed companies to use in leading cotton varieties. This extension of Bollgard registration requires the continuation of key stewardship practices, including the comprehensive insect resistance management (IRM) program for Bollgard cotton.