Biotechnology giant Monsanto will trial GM cotton in the Ord Irrigation Scheme [farming area in Western Australia] this year , using new technology its leader says could prove more resistant to thrips, mirids and caterpillars.
The US seed company is in talks with Department of Agriculture Western Australia to secure a “tiny” trial plot at Kununurra Research Station.
It plans to grow GM cotton using its pipeline biotechnology Bollgard III, approved for Australian use last year.
The new technology is a step up from Bollgard II and includes a new gene, Vip3A, which works with Cry1A and Cry2Ab to produce proteins which kill insects.
Mosanto managing director Tony May said it was early days for the new variety, designed to target a wider pest spectrum.
“It’s a very slow process,” he said.
Monsanto secured approval to grow the trial plot from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator last year and plans to plant in May .
“ I don’t see it in the next year or two, but as things get opened up in the future I think cotton would be a really viable crop up there,” [May] said.
Almost all Australian-grown cotton is genetically modified with more than 80 per cent grown using former Monsanto’s GM varieties.
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