version: 7 April 2007

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Why use biopesticides? The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies four major reasons for developing, promoting and using biopesticides, stating that:

They are usually inherently less toxic than conventional pesticides.

They are relatively specific, generally affecting only the target pest and closely related organisms, in contrast to broad spectrum, conventional pesticides.
The agents often are effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly, generally lowering exposure and largely avoiding the pollution problems caused by conventional pesticides.
Decreasing the use of conventional pesticides when used as a component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes.

One of the implications here, yet to be investigated fully, is that biopesticides may have important roles where chemical agents are ineffective or where resistance has developed. The term "Biopesticide" is often used broadly: with the US EPA including naturally occurring substances that control pests (biochemical pesticides including semiochemicals), micro-organisms that control pests (microbial pesticides), and pesticidal substances produced by plants containing added genetic material (Plant-Incorporated Protectants) or PIPs. This broad definition is shared in Len Copping's Manual of Biocontrol Agents: a comprehensive review of available biopesticide products in which macro-organisms (predatory insects, parasitoids etc.) are also included. Specific microbial control agents, are usually used with familiar pesticide application methods, and have a limited period of activity afterwards.

On these pages we focus on the exploitation of mycopesticides: biopesticides based on agents which typically conform to the latter, stricter definition of a biopesticide. We specifically focus on delivery systems, using examples such as the 'GreenMuscle' mycoinsecticide, formulations of Trichoderma for cocoa disease control and entomopathogenic nematodes.

Biopesticides, useful links:

Cost 850: EU initiative for the development of EPNs  
USDA: research on biological control with mico-organisms at Beltsville  
Society for Invertebrate Pathology Microbial Control Division (beta)
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