Letters

Bollgard Cotton Performance

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 1993-1997
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.1993c

Assertions that resistance management strategies for Bollgard cotton—which expresses the natural insecticidal protein Bacillus thurungiensis (Bt)—are inadequate or that the product “failed” to provide cotton growers control of the bollworm (M. Mellon, Letters, 1 Nov., p. 703) are simply not correct.

The facts speak for themselves. More than 1.8 million acres of Bollgard cotton were planted by more than 5700 growers across the United States in 1996 (nearly 13% of the entire cotton crop). Approximately 60% of these growers were able to entirely eliminate insecticide spray treatments for tobacco budworms, bollworms, or pink bollworms. For those growers that did spray some of their Bollgard cotton acres because of unusually high bollworm pressure, a single spray generally controlled the insect pests. That single spray—when combined with the season-long, in-plant protection provided by the Bollgard gene—represents a significant improvement over adjoining non-Bollgard fields that may, in the past, have required four, five, or even six traditional insecticide spray treatments.

The insect resistance management plan for Bollgard cotton was initiated and implemented by Monsanto with the full support and concurrence of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This plan always accounted for the bollworm and its unique characteristics.

The adoption of Bollgard cotton in 1996 saved the equivalent of the application of more than a quarter of a million gallons of formulated insecticide products, hardly a “failure” for the environment.

Navigate This Article