CABI collaborates on innovative approach to tackling pesticide resistance evolution

Spodoptera eridania (southern armyworm); larva on tomato leaf.
Southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania) – a pest which is prevalent in Brazil ©Lyle J. Buss/University of Florida

CABI is joining an international team of scientists, led by the University of Stirling, to take a ‘revolutionary approach’ in attempting to tackle resistance to pesticides in insects with a specific focus on crops pests in Brazil.

The £620,000 study will see UK-based Dr Belinda Luke working on the mass production of fungal biopesticides and formulation development from CABI’s laboratories in Egham, Surrey, while Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, and Natália Corniani – from CABI’s centre in São Paulo, Brazil, will disseminate a range of associated training activities.

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Suspected pesticide poisoning in India highlights importance of PPE

A woman picking cotton in a field near Nagarjuna Sagar — Andhra Pradesh, India (by By Claude Renault, via Wikimedia Commons)

On 5th October, the BBC reported that at least 50 farmers have died in the western state of Mharashtra, India, since July, due to suspected accidental pesticide poisoning (see the full article on the BBC website).

Nineteen of these deaths were reported from Yavatmal district, a major cotton growing area, where farmers use a variety of cotton which is meant to be resistant to bollworms. However, this year, despite use of this variety, crop damage caused by bollworm has been highly significant, leading to an increase in the use of pesticides.

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BioClay pesticide spray successful in recent trials

Commercial field crop of tobacco (N. tabacum) (AgrEvo)
Commercial field crop of tobacco (N. tabacum) (AgrEvo)

Australian researchers have developed a new nanotechnology pesticide spray called BioClay which has shown success in recent trials.

Developed by the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), BioClay contains double stranded RNA which can be sprayed onto a crop. When the RNA contacts the plant, the plant believes it is being attacked by a virus and protects itself.

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The price of organic farming…prison time?

pinot gris grapes
Judges in France are now considering an appropriate punishment for one organic winemaker who has refused to spray his vines with pesticides. Without spraying, they say he could be contributing to further infestation of the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus in the region. As the Guardian in the UK reports, Emmanuel Giboulot now faces a 6-month prison sentence and a €30,000 fine for failing to apply insecticide. His justification for refusing, he says, is that chemical measures are both ineffective at managing the pest, which can carry flavescence dorée disease,  and damaging to pollinating insects such as bees. Instead, he insists the disease can be managed by more natural means. Over 41,000 people have signed a petition in his defense.