WASHINGTON (Commodity Online) : Worst floods in Pakistan's recent history hit hard on the world's fourth largest cotton producer as it is likely to lost more than 15% of 2010-11 cotton harvest.

According to International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), cotton output in Pakistan now looked likely to come in at 1.9m tones, some 300,000 tones less than originally expected.

Analysts said the losses could have been greater were it not for the sowing of genetically modified seed.

Many cotton districts in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh have been severely hit by flood and more rains are forecast over the next week.

The estimate reflected in part the loss entirely of 6-8% of cotton sowings to the floods, which have killed an estimated 1,500 people and affected 20 million others.

The balance of the losses were attributed to follow-up damage, including the standing water that will suffocate the root system of plants, and the spread of pests.

Hot and humid conditions provide suitable conditions of pest multiplication, including bollworms that affect the fruit directly, the ICAC said.

However, the committee, an intergovernmental group, also flagged the resistance that many crops will have thanks to have been planted with genetically modified seed in their first season of official release.

At least half the 2010-11 crop was planted to biotech varieties resistant to bollworm. While falling short of initial hopes, a cotton crop of 1.9m tonnes is in line with Pakistan's historical output. In the 1990s, the country clocked up a series of sub-1.5m-tonne harvests.

The ICAC added that it was cutting its estimate for cotton use by mills in Pakistan, the third-biggest consuming country, but said that the shortfall would be made up elsewhere, leaving use estimates unchanged.

Cotton for September stood $0.06 cents lower at 87.67 cents a pound in late deals in New York, with the better traded December lot down 0.28 cents at 83.58 cents a pound.