MON 15985 is a variety of Bt cotton created by Monsanto. It was initially deregulated in the U.S. in 2002 and first commercialized in the U.S. in 2003. It is genetically engineered to produce an insecticidal protein in every cell, using a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bt crops and genetically modified organisms are controversial around the world.
On December 7, 2000, Monsanto petitioned the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to deregulate MON 15985. APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register on March 18, 2002, soliciting public comments that were due by May 17, 2002. APHIS conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act and concluded a "finding of no significant impact" (FONSI). MON 15985 was deregulated in the U.S. on November 5, 2002.
At the time of deregulation, APHIS wrote in the Federal Register:
- "Cotton event 15985 has been genetically engineered to express a Cry2Ab insecticidal protein derived from the common soil bacterium B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk). The petitioner states that the Cry2Ab protein is effective in providing protection from the feeding of lepidopteran insect pests such as tobacco budworm, pink bollworm, and cotton bollworm. The subject cotton event also expresses the β-D-glucuronidase (GUS) protein used as a selectable marker. Expression of the added genes is controlled in part by gene sequences from the plant pathogens cauliflower mosaic virus and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Particle acceleration technology was used to transfer the added genes into the recipient Delta and Pine Land Company variety 50B (DP50B). Cotton cultivar DP50B expresses a Btk Cry1Ac insecticidal protein and a NPTII selectable marker protein, and was developed from cotton event 531, which was deregulated by AOHIS in 1995."
Monsanto branded cotton with its MON 15985 trait as "Bollgard II® Cotton" and began selling it in 2003. In 2006, it introduced a "stacked" product with two traits, MON 15985, and its "Roundup Ready® Flex" trait (MON 88913).