Mushroom-based biopesticides could cut environmental damage from synthetic chemicals

| | September 25, 2018
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mushroom-based biopesticides could cut environmental damage from synthetic chemicals
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

…. In the year 2012 — the last time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) published a report on the subject — chemical pesticide sales in the United States amounted to nearly $14 billion …. But let’s face it: We wouldn’t have a robust agricultural system we have if it weren’t for pesticides killing unwanted critters.

Imagine a pesticide that could fend off unwanted insects while leaving everybody else alone. It’s possible! The technology exists, it just requires approval by the EPA — and that we become OK with the idea of weaponizing parasitic fungi to feed on the innards of insects for our own agricultural gain.

Some downsides of mushroom-based pesticides are price and finickiness: They could easily cost farmers 20 times more than they’re used to paying for pesticides, and like other living things, they’re sensitive to environmental conditions like temperature and humidity.

Related article:  Agriculture is 'ecocide'? Third-generation farmer takes on environmental objections to modern food production

Mycologist Paul Stamets has patented two fungus-based insecticides — one that’s targeted toward fire ants, carpenter ants and termites, and the other toward a more general audience of around 200,000 insect species. These pesticides seem delicious enough to lure insects to them, and once the bugs have eaten them, the fungi sporulates and sprouts inside them, feeding on their internal tissue until they die and a tiny mushroom sprouts from their heads ….

Read full, original article: Fungus-based Pesticides Might Be the Green Solution of the Future

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