MON 531 is a variety of Bt Cotton created by Monsanto. It was initially deregulated in the U.S. in 1995 and first sold in the U.S. in 1996. 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 November 4, 1994, Monsanto petitioned the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to deregulate three different lines of Bt Cotton (MON 531, 757, 1076). APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register on February 9, 1995, soliciting public comments that were due by April 10, 1995. APHIS conducted an Environmental Assessment EA under the National Environmental Policy Act and concluded a "finding of no significant impact" (FONSI). All three lines were deregulated in the U.S. on June 22, 1995.
At the time of deregulation, APHIS wrote in the Federal Register:
- "Monsanto's cotton lines 531, 757, and 1076 have been genetically engineered to express an insect control protein encoded by the cry1A(c) gene that occurs naturally in Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk), a common soil bacterium. This protein is effective against such lepidopteran insect pests as cotton bollworm, tobacco budworm, and pink bollworm, and is expressed at a consistent level in the cotton plant throughout the growing season. The subject cotton lines also contain the nptII gene which encodes the enzyme neomycin phospherotransferase II. Presence of the NPTII protein confers tolerance to the antibiotic kanamycin. These genes were stably transferred into the genome of cotton plants using the Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation."
Following deregulation, Monsanto commercialized MON 531 in 1996, branding it "Bollgard® Cotton." In 1997, it added a "stacked" product, selling cotton seeds that combined both the MON 531 Bt trait with a Roundup Ready trait.