Society of Chemical Industry | By Pamela G Marrone


There is a long history of using natural products as the basis for creating new pesticides but there is still a relatively low percentage of naturally derived pesticides relative to the number of pharmaceuticals derived from natural sources. Biopesticidesas defined and regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been around for 70 years, starting with Bacillus thuringiensis, but they are experiencing rapid growth as the products have got better and more science-based, andthere are more restrictions on synthetic chemical pesticides. As such, biopesticides are still a small percentage (approximately US$3–4 billion) of the US$61.3 billion pesticide market. The growth of biopesticides is projected to outpace that of chemical pesticides, with compounded annual growth rates of between 10% and 20%. When integrated into crop production and pest management programs, biopesticides offer the potential for higher crop yields and quality than chemical – only programs. Added benefits include reduction or elimination of chemical residues, therefore easing export, enabling delay in the development ofresistance by pests and pathogens to chemicals and shorter field re-entry, biodegradability and production using agriculturalraw materials versus fossil fuels, and low risk to non-target organisms, including pollinators. Challenges to the adoption of biopesticides include lack of awareness and education in how to deploy their unique modes of action in integrated programs,testing products alone versus in integrated programs, and lingering perceptions of cost and efficacy.