Biopesticides: Leveraging nature’s pesticides to protect our food

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[Brooke Borel writes in bioGraphic about a demonstration trial in Canada using bumble bees to deliver a ‘biopesticide’ to a strawberry crop. The biopesticide being delivered is a benign fungus, Clonostachys rosea, that protects the strawberries against a destructive fungus known as gray mold (Botrytis cinerea.) Borel describes the fast-growing biopesticide industry in which researchers are using the natural enemies of pests and pathogens, often other bacteria, fungi or viruses, to protect crops.]

[The market for] biopesticides [is] growing faster than [that for] synthetic pesticides…. There are several forces fueling this trend. For example, pests and pathogens have grown resistant to many pesticides, while the EPA has phased out older chemistries, due to environmental and health concerns. These concerns have not only increased government regulation and driven up the cost of developing new chemical pesticides, but have also increased demand from consumers for farmers to grow more organic produce.

. . . .

On the surface, leveraging nature’s vast biodiversity to protect crops against some of agriculture’s thorniest pests looks elegant and appealingly Earth-friendly….

But finding the right organism to counter a specific pest or blight is no easy task….

Related article:  Health Canada's proposed ban of a neonicotinoid pesticide draws criticism

Convincing farmers to adopt a radically different approach to crop protection is also tricky. Many farmers, and some pesticide experts, believe biopesticides are subpar compared to synthetic chemicals, partly because of the products’ lower toxicity … and partly because they often require that we harness living things to serve as delivery mechanisms, which can be difficult to control in the field.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Unearthing Nature’s Pesticides

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