New Stacked Bt Trait to Resist Pink Bollworm in Bt Cotton

Hyderabad-based Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) seems to have found an answer to the dreaded pink bollworm, which continues to infest Bt cotton year after year.

To tackle the bollworm, the company has developed an alternative trait. The company developed resistance to Bt cotton in single-gene traits in 2008-09, and to two-gene traits in 2015.

NSL Chairman and Managing Director M Prabhakar Rao said, “we have tested the gene at the laboratory and found it to be successful in resisting bollworm attacks. The breeding of the gene is being conducted at our Hyderabad facility.”

Researchers at NSL, India’s largest seed company, claim to have developed a new trait by combining two existing genes.

NSL has already filed an application on the new finding with the Review Committee on Genetic Modification (RCGM), set up under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

Rao is also the president of the National Seeds Association of India. He also said that, it is also preparing to file an application with the biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), a statutory body set up under the Environment Protection Act.

Cotton is grown on 10.5-12.5 million hectares across 11 major States — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Tami Nadu, as per the government statistics.

A farmer has to shell out about Rs. 2,000 per hectare for pest control in case there is a of bollworm attack. The pest caused a crop loss of 25-30 per cent in the last cotton season.

Sateesh Kumar, Director-Research at NSL said, “we have combined Cry1AC with Cry1EC of the National Botanical Research Institute, to achieve this success. This trait is showing good results in bioassays conducted in our labs and we hope to get regulatory approvals in two years."

Cry1Ac and Cry1EC, both developed by NBRI and are endotoxins acting as insecticides. Rao also said, “we hope to bring it to the market within two years of getting regulatory approvals."


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