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BIOPESTICIDES

23/09/2013

Me again, dears :) As discussed here last week, pesticides are extremely harmful to human health and the environment. So shouldn`t we ask ourselves what`s the alternative? Biopesticides. They offer powerful tools to create a new generation of sustainable agriculture products – biopesticides are less toxic, affect only the target pest, and dissolve quickly. So, logical as always, I decided they definitely deserve an article and here we go.

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Biopesticides are pesticides derived from natural materials – plants, animals, bacteria, even some minerals. They divide into 3 major groups: Microbial pesticides which consist of bacteria, entomopathogenic fungi or viruses. Microbial products may consist of the organisms themselves and/or the metabolites they produce. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest. Most popular microbial pesticides are strains of Bacillus thuringiensis, each of them kills one or more species of insect larvae. Microbial pesticides are divided into 6 subcategories: Bacteria Fungi Protozoa Viruses Yeast 

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Biochemical biopesticides are naturally occurring compounds or synthetically derived compounds that are structurally similar (and functionally identical) to their naturally occurring counterparts. In general, biochemical biopesticides are characterized by a non-toxic mode of action that may affect the growth and development of a pest, its ability to reproduce, or pest ecology. They also may have an impact on the growth and development of treated plants including their post harvest physiology. They are divided into subcategories: Plant Growth Regulators Insect Growth Regulators Organic Acids Plant Extracts Pheromones Minerals/Other

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PIP stands for plant incorporated protectants – plants produce those pesticidal substances from genetic material. This is how it works: the scientists introduce a gene to a plant`s own genetic material; the plant then manufactures the substance that destroys the pest. Biopesticides provide a wide range of benefits to growers, packer/shippers, food processors, and food retailers, as well as consumers. When used as a component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, biopesticides can greatly decrease the use of conventional pesticides, while crop yields remain high - also allow growers to maintain beneficial insect (natural predator) populations in their fields, thus reducing the dependence on conventional chemical pesticides. In addition to food uses, biopesticides may also contribute protection of turf, ornamentals, and forests. They are also useful in the realm of public health where they can be used for disease and nuisance management, i.e. mosquito and tick control. Most biopesticides are exempt from residue limits on fresh and processed foods around the world. As of early 2013 there were approximately 400 registered biopesticide active ingredients and over 1250 actively registered biopesticide products. They can help farmers transition away from highly toxic conventional chemical pesticides into an era of truly sustainable agriculture. However, though, serious questions remain about the safety of biopesticide products from both a human and ecosystem health standpoint. Current regulations do not go nearly far enough in evaluating systemic broader impacts of biopesticides.