Bollgard III, advanced version of GM Cotton and new research product from the US agri-science major Monsanto, Bollgard III will be resistant to bollworm, army worm and pink bollworm as well as herbicide tolerant as per Dr Roy Cantrell, Global Cotton Breeding Lead of Monsanto.
The work on Bollgard III is at advanced stage in US and Brazil and in these countries and it is expected to be commercially released by 2016-17. It is believed by Monsanto Officials that it will take some more time and likely to be released in India by around 2020. Bollgard I and II are currently being used by Indian farmers. Also, with the introduction of Bollgard II and because of not up to the mark performance of BG I, the use of BG I is declining gradually. The data reveals that use of Bollgard II has increased with the variety being sown in over 70% of the total 118 lakh hectares under cotton in the country.
Bollgard III has got approval from the US and Australian Governments for regulatory field trials."It is at a stage where the genes are being analysed. In Brazil, it is under the consideration of the regulator" Whereas for India, research is on to decide what genes to include and it is at a very early stage as informed by Dr. Cantrell who is in connection with the Fifth World Cotton Research Conference.
Monsanto is also planning to introduce the concept of "Refuge in the bag" cotton in the cotton market, according to this theory farmers are supposed to plant Bt cotton with the borders comprising of non-Bt cotton varieties so as to ensure no cross pollination of other fields or crop.
"However, Governments will have to approve the Refuge in the Bag process. In the US, it is a non-issue since you don't need a refuge area for cotton, though you will need one for corn," said Dr Cantrell. Asked about reports of poor performance of Bollgard I currently in India, he said it was one of the reasons why farmers were shifting to Bollgard II.