Crop Genetics International Corp. announced Wednesday thatthe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved thefirst new bioinsecticide virus in 10 years, Spod-X.

Spod-X is the first in a series of insecticidal virus productsmanufactured by the company's Columbia, Md., InStar division.The active ingredient is a naturally occurring insect virus thatcontrols Spodeptera exiqua, the beet armyworm, which is amajor insect pest on such plants as tomatoes, lettuce, flowersand ornamental plants.

Crop Genetics (NASDAQ:CROP) of Hanover, Md., has two otherinsecticidal viruses awaiting EPA registration. All three will beprimarily field-tested and marketed through a strategicalliance with Du Pont Agricultural Products. Du Pont isproviding funding to Crop Genetics for development ofproduction and purification methods that permit large-scalemanufacture of insecticidal products at competitive prices.

Faith Zwick, a Du Pont project manager, said field trials indicatethat Spod-X will be particularly useful where beet armywormshave developed chemical resistance.

The registration is effective immediately, but requires oneadditional study by Crop Genetics during the next year. Thefirst sales are expected next year, and smaller markets will beserved directly by the company, said James Davis, head ofresearch and development at Crop Genetics.

The company's stock was up 38 cents a share on Wednesday to$4.88.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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