The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, December 19th, approved the use of 10 pesticides to manage insect pests and diseases. 9 are biopesticides and 1 is a conventional pesticide.

The EPA’s agency administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, “With common-sense actions, we are protecting the health of our nation and ensuring that crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar cane, and hemp can be protected against a broad spectrum of weeds and pests.” 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stated: “EPA’s actions today help support American farmers’ efforts to grow hemp just in time for the first growing season.”

What are Biopesticides?

Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from natural materials such as animals, plants, bacteria, and several minerals. Canola oil, for example, and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopesticides.

According to the EPA, biopesticides fall into three major classes.

Biochemical pesticides are naturally occurring substances that control pests by non-toxic mechanisms while conventional pesticides are generally manufactured materials that directly kill or inactivate the pest. These pesticides include substances that interfere with mating, such as insect sex pheromones, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps.

Microbial pesticides consist of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest[s].

Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs) are pesticidal substances that plants produce from genetic material that has been added to the plant. Scientists can take the gene for a pesticidal protein and introduce it into the plant’s own genetic material. The plant then manufactures the substance that destroys the pest.

Are Biopesticides safe for use?

What is a conventional pesticide?

Conventional pesticides are synthetic chemicals that generally work by directly killing (PDF) or disabling pests. Conventional pesticides are among the most common chemical compounds because they are readily available, rapid-acting, and highly reliable.

A single treatment can control several pest species and usually creates a residue that continues to kill insects for hours or even days after. Overuse and the abuse of conventional pesticides have led to extensive criticism resulting in long-term environmental consequences.

Biopesticides

Conventional Pesticides

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