Monsanto Enters 'Clearance' Period for Bollgard

EPA finalized rules for ending use of the biotech tool and Delta and Pine Land will have some seed for the final season.

Published on: Aug 31, 2009

The popular Bollgard insect control technology is going away after this year, and farmers in some areas will have access to the popular, high-yielding 555 for season 2010. But news late Friday came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcing the final agreement on using the technology one last season.

Monsanto has worked to communicate what is planned for the final season, but the EPA agreement offers a couple of significant changes over what had been discussed as early as July.

First, the agency has extended the registration for Bollgard through July 1, 2010. That's significant because it means the farmers that get the seed for their farms next year will be planting a registered product. For Monsanto, that means the company won't have to report individual farmer names for those that buy the product.

Second, the agency has limited the geography where the Bollgard varieties can be planted. "This is a significant change, especially for those growers in Arizona who had been counting on planting those lines for 2010," says Dave Rhylander, who heads up cotton marketing for Monsanto. "We'll have to work with those growers." Rhylander spoke with media on a conference call this week.

Here's the approved geography for Bollgard varieties for 2010: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (north of Tampa), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (excluding the ten prohibited panhandle counties of Dallam, Sherman, Hansford, Ochiltree, Lipscomb, Hartley, Moore, Hutchison, Roberts and Carson) and Virginia. Bollgard seed will not be sold for planting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico in 2010 because pink bollworm eradication programs are under way, or EPA determined that there was very little to no Bollgard planted in these states in previous years.

Monsanto has also said it would announce by August the amount of 555, a popular Bollgard variety that would be available for growers. It'll be 33% of what was produced in 2009. The variety had 16% of the cotton plantings according to USDA, and 56% of plantings in the Southeast. That'll be one-third that amount for 2010.

"Growers will have to work with distribution to get that they need, and the allocation will be determined at that level," Rhylander says.

As the company clears the Bollgard line, growers have until Sept. 30, 2009 to place their order. All sales are final. "That keeps one person from making a decision now and going back on it later that would impact other buyers," Rhylander adds. "If you buy it on Sept. 25 and later change your mind, after September 30, we can't go and sell it to someone else. If they buy it there is no refund."

For more information, talk to your Delta and Pine Land representative, it's the only company that'll be offering Bollgard for 2010.