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Pesticide News Story: EPA Approves Natural Refuge for Insect Resistance Management in Bollgard II Cotton

For Release: June 4, 2007

To reduce the likelihood that insects will become resistant to Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) plant-incorporated protectant (PIP), the Agency has approved the use of alternative crop plants and weeds -- a natural refuge -- instead of a structured non-Bt cottonrefuge for Bollgard II (Registered Trademark)cotton. Careful scientific review has shown that insect resistance management can be accomplished by using only alternative crops and weeds in combination with plantings of Bollgard II cotton from Texas to the Mid-Atlantic. Previously, farmers planting this cotton were required to cultivate a certain percentage of non-Bt cotton and specifically deploy it relatively close to the Bt cotton fields to reduce the likelihood that Bt resistance would develop. Refuges are critical because non-Bt cotton will produce susceptible insects that can mate with any potential resistant insects to reduce resistance. The current structured refuge requirements for Bollgard II cotton will remain in place for pink bollworm resistance management in the trans-Pecos area of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The Agency’s approval comes after extensive analyses and peer review of Monsanto Company’s 2006 natural refuge proposal for Bollgard II cotton. EPA concluded that scientific evidence showed using the natural refuge with Bollgard II cotton would be effective for areas where tobacco budworm and cotton bollworm were primary pests. The Agency will reassess the effectiveness of the natural refuge within five years. The Bollgard II cotton, a registered product of Monsanto Company, contains two different PIPs, Cry2Ab2 and Cry1Ac Bt proteins. These two insecticidal proteins are effective in controlling insect pests that include tobacco budworm, cotton bollworm, pink bollworm, loopers, and armyworms. Use of Bollgard II cotton, with its two distinct Bt proteins, in conjunction with the use of natural refuge, will enhance cotton insect resistance management. More on plant-incorporated protectants is available on EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/pips/index.htm.

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