USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it is deregulating a cotton variety developed by Texas A&M that is genetically engineered to have ultra-low levels of gossypol in its seed. Gossypol is a naturally occurring compound in the pigment of cotton plants that protects them from pests and diseases. This GE variety maintains protective levels of gossypol in the plants, but the compound is significantly reduced in the seed. APHIS says this benefits agriculture by lowering cottonseed oil refining costs, and potentially expands the use of cottonseed in the livestock and aquaculture feed industries, as well as for human food uses. In a final plant pest risk assessment (PPRA), APHIS concluded this variety of GE cotton is “unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the U.S.” The final PPRA followed a 30-day public review and comment period on a draft assessment that was made available on Aug. 1. A copy of the final PPRA and supporting documents can be found on the News and Information page of APHIS's Biotechnology Regulatory Services website.
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