Bees for biocontrol to combat the Botrytis cinerea pathogen

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Bees for biocontrol to combat the Botrytis cinerea pathogen

In an innovative approach to agriculture, Agrobío SL is trialing a natural precision agriculture system that uses bees for biocontrol to combat the Botrytis cinerea pathogen. This method promises a leap towards sustainable farming by reducing chemical pesticides, increasing crop yield, and protecting the environment.

Safak Costu

 15 Feb 2024 08:52 EST

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Bees and Biocontrol: A Leap Towards Sustainable Agriculture
Bees and Biocontrol: A Leap Towards Sustainable Agriculture

In a groundbreaking approach to agriculture and pest control, Agrobío SL, a pioneering entity in the field of sustainable agriculture, has embarked on a trial that could mark a significant shift in how crops are protected and nurtured. This initiative, launched in December, leverages the innovative Natural Precision Agriculture System developed by Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. (BVT), aiming to tackle the pervasive threat of Botrytis cinerea, commonly known as gray mold. This pathogen, notorious for affecting over 1000 plant species, poses a substantial challenge to crop productivity and sustainability worldwide.

The Dawn of a New Era in Crop Protection

The collaboration is part of Agrobío’s contribution to the ADOPT-IPM project, an undertaking funded by the European Union, designed to refine and enhance Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies. By integrating BVT’s natural precision agriculture system into their greenhouse tomato crops in Spain, Agrobío is not just combating a prevalent plant disease but is also pioneering a shift towards more sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly farming practices. The eight to ten-month trial will critically assess the system’s effectiveness in managing Botrytis compared to traditional chemical-based spray programs, promising a potential paradigm shift in agricultural pest management.

A Symbiotic Solution Harnessing Nature’s Ingenuity

At the heart of BVT’s system is a remarkably innovative method of delivering biological pesticide alternatives directly to crops, utilizing commercially grown bees. This eco-friendly approach not only aims to reduce the reliance on chemical pesticides but also seeks to enhance crop yield and protect the ecosystem. By exploiting the natural behavior of bees, the system ensures precise and targeted delivery of natural pest control agents, minimizing waste and maximizing effectiveness. This method presents a win-win scenario, safeguarding both plant health and the surrounding environment, thereby supporting the broader goals of sustainability and ecological balance.

Implications for the Future of Agriculture

The trial by Agrobío not only signifies a critical step forward in the fight against plant pathogens like Botrytis cinerea but also embodies the broader movement towards natural precision agriculture. As the results of this trial are eagerly awaited, the implications for agricultural practices are profound. Success could herald a new age of farming where efficiency, sustainability, and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive but are instead seamlessly integrated into a holistic approach to crop management and protection. Moreover, the adoption of such innovative solutions underscores the potential for technology and nature to work in harmony, offering promising avenues for addressing some of the most pressing challenges in contemporary agriculture.

As Agrobío SL and Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. navigate through this trailblazing trial, the eyes of the world are on them, anticipating the outcomes that might not just revolutionize the way we protect our crops but also how we envisage the future of farming. With a focus on harmony with nature, efficiency, and sustainability, this venture into using bees for biocontrol represents not just a step but a leap towards a future where agriculture works hand in hand with nature, for a healthier planet and a more sustainable tomorrow.



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Brazil: The Rise of Biopesticides in Agriculture

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Brazil: The Rise of Biopesticides in Agriculture

Brazil’s agriculture is witnessing a quiet revolution with the rise of biopesticides. Farmers like Adriano Cruvinel have increased soybean yields by 13% and reduced chemical pesticide use by 76%. As Brazil faces challenges in balancing agricultural advancement and environmental stewardship, the adoption of biopesticides offers a promising path towards sustainable farming.

BNN Correspondents

 18 Feb 2024 20:50 EST

 Updated On 18 Feb 2024 20:51 EST

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Brazil's Quiet Revolution: The Rise of Biopesticides in Agriculture
Brazil’s Quiet Revolution: The Rise of Biopesticides in Agriculture

In the verdant expanses of Brazil, a quiet revolution brews amidst the rows of soy, corn, and cotton that stretch as far as the eye can see. Here, in the world’s largest exporter of these crops, a significant shift toward sustainability is underway. Leading the charge is Adriano Cruvinel, a farmer whose soybean yields have surged by 13% thanks to a bold decision: slashing chemical pesticide use by an astonishing 76% in favor of biopesticides. This move toward natural pest management solutions is not just a personal win for Cruvinel but signals a potential turning point for Brazilian – and possibly global – agriculture. As of February 2024, the adoption of biopesticides is gaining momentum, promising a future where farming works in harmony with nature rather than against it.

The Rise of Biologicals in Brazil’s Agri-Frontiers

The transformation witnessed on Cruvinel’s farm is part of a broader trend sweeping across Brazil. Farmers across the nation are increasingly turning to biopesticides – natural alternatives to chemical pesticides – to bolster crop health and yields. This pivot is driven by the unveiling of innovative biopesticide products, such as FMC’s Onsuva, a fungicide designed to combat major soybean and cotton diseases, and Premio Star, an insecticide effective against a wide array of pests. The introduction of these products, showcased at the Show Rural 2024, marks a significant milestone in Brazil’s journey towards sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, the release of Presence Full, a biological nematocide, and Provilar, a biocide harboring bacillus endospores, underscores the agricultural sector’s commitment to reducing chemical use and enhancing crop safety.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

Despite the promising strides made by pioneers like Cruvinel, biopesticides remain in their infancy in Brazil, accounting for just 9% of total pesticide sales. This nascent stage is partly due to the country’s heavy reliance on chemical pesticides, fueled by its status as the world’s top consumer. The recent softening of regulations on agricultural chemicals by Brazilian legislation, met with criticism from environmentalists, further complicates the landscape. Additionally, the controversy surrounding Brazil’s pesticide use has international ramifications, with opponents of the EU-Mercosur trade deal citing concerns over the nation’s pesticide consumption. These challenges highlight the delicate balance Brazil must navigate between agricultural advancement and environmental stewardship.

Experts Weigh In: The Path to Global Adoption

The journey of biopesticides from niche to mainstream is fraught with hurdles, yet experts remain optimistic about their global potential. AgriBusiness Global’s recent interviews with industry players shed light on the critical factors for widespread adoption. Key among these is the demonstration of biopesticides’ efficacy in boosting yields and reducing reliance on chemical alternatives, as evidenced by Cruvinel’s success. Furthermore, the development and marketing of innovative products like Onsuva and Premio Star play a pivotal role in persuading farmers to make the switch. For biopesticides to take root globally, the agricultural sector must embrace these natural solutions, proving that sustainability and productivity can coexist.

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The narrative unfolding in Brazil’s vast fields is more than a tale of agricultural innovation; it is a testament to the power of sustainable practices in shaping the future of farming. As biopesticides begin to find their footing, bolstered by the success stories of farmers like Cruvinel and the pioneering spirit of companies like FMC, the vision of a greener, more productive agriculture becomes increasingly tangible. Yet, the path forward is not without its obstacles, requiring a concerted effort from all stakeholders to overcome regulatory, environmental, and market challenges. Brazil’s journey with biopesticides not only illuminates the potential for a seismic shift in global agriculture but also serves as a call to action for nations worldwide to consider the legacy they wish to leave on the planet’s agricultural landscape.



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Australia and New Zealand: GMO bananas for Panama disease control

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Australia and New Zealand: GMO bananas for Panama disease control

Gerhard Uys

February 22, 2024

First genetically modified banana approved for growth in Australia and possible sale in NZ.

The GM banana plants contain an introduced gene from wild banana Musa acuminata subspecies malaccensis

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Food Standards Australia New Zealand has approved a genetically modified banana for sale as food in Australia and New Zealand. 

The announcement comes as the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care said a licence was granted to allow the Australian Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to commercially cultivate GM banana plants modified for resistance to the fungal disease Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease.

In Australia, Panama disease affects a number of banana plantations in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

The Panama disease fungus persists in soil for decades and there are no effective control measures, the department said. 

“The licence allows GM banana plants [to be] grown in all banana growing areas in Australia, subject to restrictions in some states and territories for marketing reasons,” the department said.

The QUT does not intend the GM banana plants to replace the current Cavendish banana cultivars growing in Australia, but wanted to create a safety net to the Australian banana industry should it be heavily impacted by Panama disease.

“The Regulator has not imposed any specific measures to manage risk, as the risk assessment concluded that this release of GM banana plants poses negligible risk to the health and safety of people or the environment,” the department said.

The GM banana plants and their products may enter general commerce, including use in human food and animal feed, the department said.

The GM banana plants contain an introduced gene from wild banana Musa acuminata subspecies  malaccensis.  

In NZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries reported that over the past five years NZ imported 99.8 tonnes of bananas from Australia, with an import value of  $550,422, the majority dried bananas.

A spokesperson for Woolworths NZ said it does not import bananas from Australia, and that the several thousand tonnes of bananas it does import are under certifications that prohibited GMOs.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) did not respond to specific questions but pointed to its website that had information on the approval.

“Australian and New Zealand food ministers [were notified] of the decision on 16 February 2024. Food ministers have 60 days to consider the approval. If they do not request a review, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code will be amended to permit the sale and use of food derived from the banana,” the website says.

“QUT has indicated there are no immediate plans to commercialise the GM banana in Australia as Panama disease is currently contained and effectively managed in the domestic industry.

“FSANZ safety assessment found food derived from banana line QCAV-4 is as safe and nutritious as comparable conventional banana already in the Australian and New Zealand food supply.” 

The GM bananas and any derived food products will be subject to mandatory GM labelling. 

However, “food intended for immediate consumption that is prepared and sold from food premises and vending vehicles (for example restaurants, takeaway food outlets and caterers) is exempt from GM food labelling requirements. In these cases the consumer can seek information about the food from the food business,” the FSANZ  website says.

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