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VIP cotton ready to launch in 2004, 2005

Move over Bt cotton, here comes VIP cotton (the developmental name for the transgenic, insect-resistant cotton trait which Syngenta Crop Protection expects to launch in the United States in 2004 and 2005).

According to Syngenta, VIP technology will provide protection against many of the major worm pests that feed on cotton plants, including cotton bollworm, native bollworm, tobacco budworm, pink bollworm, beet armyworm and fall armyworm. VIP stands for vegetative insecticidal protein.

The company also plans to stack the VIP cotton trait with a current glyphosate-resistant trait and eventually with its own proprietary glyphosate product.

Like Bt cotton, VIP cotton includes a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis. However, the VIP gene produces a different protein, which has a different mode of action, structure and spectrum of activity than the Bt-derived protein in Bt cotton.

VIP causes production of a protein that the insect pest larvae cannot tolerate. By eating cotton plant parts, the larvae consume the VIP protein, which causes the larvae to stop feeding and die.

Syngenta is conducting product development work in the United States through universities and the company's own product development team and under agreement with several cottonseed companies, including Delta and Pine Land Co. and Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co. The company also plans to introduce VIP cotton in many global cotton markets following its introduction into the United States.

“We have it growing in the field in plants today in Scott, Miss., and some other locations,” said Tom Jagodinski, president and CEO of Delta and Pine Land Co. Depending on regulatory approval, D&PL “could have limited quantities in the field in 2004 and a lot more varieties in 2005.”

D&PL has been evaluating VIP cotton for over a year, according to Jaggeninski. “We're looking at this technology and others. We're trying to bring new technologies to the farmers that will help them make more money and become more profitable. We're not just going to sole source our technology from Monsanto. We're going to avail ourselves to all the technologies that are out there.”

“VIP cotton offers a good opportunity for resistance management because now we have two different modes of action in the transgenics to combat resistance in lepidopteran species,” said Mike Moss, head of research and technology/biotechnology, Syngenta.

In addition, “In the trials we've done, we've seen outstanding control with VIP,” Moss said. “That's the reason we're bringing it forward.” The technology is currently awaiting regulatory approval.

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