A new form of biopesticide that is sprinkled like salt into thetightly whorled leaves of young corn plants and kills theEuropean corn borer, which invades the plant's circulatorysystem, received relatively rapid marketing clearance from theU.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ecogen Inc. announcedThursday.

The compound, based on the company's patented, insecticidalstrain of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), is agranular formulation of its best-selling product for cotton,Condor, which was launched three years ago.

Called Condor G, the new formula for corn is the first productdeveloped by Ecogen's new R&D spin-off, Ecogen Technologies IInc., which will market the biopesticide later this year. Thespin-off, called ETech, was formed in January to speedcommercialization.

Gaining EPA registration only required a short review, saidBruce Carlton, executive vice president of research anddevelopment, because the active ingredient is natural.

The company said field trials showed that Condor G was"markedly" more effective than other biopesticides in reducingplant damage caused by the European corn borer, an $80million market.

Ecogen (NASDAQ:EECN) of Langhorne, Pa., also has obtainedapproval through its marketing partner, Roussel Uclaf of Paris,for its biopesticides to be sold in Italy, which is the sixthlargest user of agricultural chemical pesticides in the world.

More than $1 billion is spent on these these chemicals in Italy,including $241 million for insecticides alone, said JohnMcIntyre, vice president for business development andinternational distribution.

"We expect our Bt-based products will do well in Italy," he said,"because demand for environmentally compatible insecticidesis very high and growing rapidly."

The approval applies to Condor, Cutlass and Foil, which will besold under the names EcoTech Pro, EcoTech Bio and EcotechExtra.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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