Dow AgroSciences says it plans to bring a new broad-spectrum, insect-resistance trait to the cotton market in time for the 2004 growing season.

Speaking at a briefing at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Atlanta, Dow AgroSciences officials said the new trait would provide growers with a combination of the Cry 1F and Cry 1Ac strains of the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt protein.

The genetically engineered trait is expected to provide control of the major lepidopterous pests in cotton — bollworms, tobacco budworms and pink bollworms — and the armyworm and looper complexes, according to the officials.

“Our testing shows significant control of these pests from these Bt strains inserted in cotton,” said Joe Sobek, global business leader, biotechnology fiber crops for Dow AgroSciences. “This trait goes beyond bollworm and budworm and extends to armyworms and loopers.

“You really need both the 1F and 1Ac genes to get this spectrum of control for these key pests in cotton.”

Sobek said Dow AgroSciences intends to submit a registration package for the new trait by the end of 2002 and expects to receive registration from EPA in 2003 in time for a “full commercial launch of the new product in 2004.”

Dow scientists reported on the efficacy of the new trait in a paper presented during the Cotton Insect Research and Control Conference at the Beltwide.

Dow AgroSciences owns and operates Phytogen Cottonseed Inc. in partnership with the J.G. Boswell Co., in California. The new genetic material will be inserted in Phytogen varieties, but Dow AgroSciences will license the technology to other seed companies, as well, said Sobek.

“Phytogen is a small company, but it is unique in the marketplace,” he said. “It is a leader in Pima and Acala cotton varieties in California and is gaining market share in other areas of the Cotton Belt.”

Sobek said the new cotton traits are part of a $1.5 billion investment Dow AgroSciences is making in biotechnology. The company previously received approval for a new insect resistance trait in corn containing the Cry 1F gene.

“Dow AgroSciences wants to be a global leader in the emerging biotechnology business,” said Sobek. “We are interested in providing fresh new material, including both input and output traits, that will be of benefit to farmers and consumers.”

The new insect-resistance traits or input traits are “at the top of the list,” but Dow AgroSciences is also working on output traits such as nutritionally enhanced corn and canola, Sobek noted.