Botanical Biopesticides – Where to Now?
Like Apollo 13 in the eponymously named 1995 film, crop protection has a problem, well actually, more than one problem. Unlike the Apollo disaster there is however, no quick fix on the horizon. The first, and for growers often the more serious problem, is that populations of insects and other pests, are developing resistance to pesticides; indeed there are almost 600 species of arthropod for which resistance to the most commonly used crop protection products has been reported. The situation with weeds and plant pathogens is equally parlous, with cases of resistance to herbicides and fungicides growing at an alarming rate worldwide. The second problem, and one that potentially poses a danger to us all is the realization that the use of some conventional synthetic pesticides, widely perceived by the public and some scientists, as a danger to beneficial insects such as pollinators, may also be a threat to insects in general. The pressure put on growers by the public condemnation of the use and the reducing commercial availability of effective conventional synthetic pesticides means that the development of viable alternatives is of increasing importance. The obvious, and the option favoured by the European Union, is to increase the wholehearted uptake of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by growers of all kinds. Given that successful IPM programmes and those likely to do not preclude the use of pesticides it would be foolish, in most cropping situations at least, to advocate reliance on biological control options on their own. Where approaches to prevent pest problems, such as through the use of host-plant resistance and crop rotations, have been unsuccessful, this effectively leaves us with the biopesticides to combat pest outbreaks. Biopesticides are typically either derived from plants (the botanicals) or from microbial agents such as entomopathogenic fungi. We desperately need further work in this area, without increased funding and just as importantly, changes in the regulatory framework and the attitudes of growers, improvements in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly crop production will be a long time coming.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2019
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