Food security is continuously threatened by insect pests which destroy an estimated 20% of the world’s crops. Pesticide use is, however, reducing as regulations become stricter to protect human health and the environment on one hand, and due to insects developing resistance on the other hand. Biological control, is considered a more sustainable approach. This sets a challenge to optimise the performance of baculovirus-based products, the only virus group accepted as control agents against insect pests.
Innovation: EARTO member ARMINES and its collaborators developed a crop protection innovation that realises the full potential of baculoviruses to prevent resistance development and target multiple pests. This has been achieved by retaining a controlled level of genetic diversity in the baculovirus, as the probability of pests being resistant to all genotypes will be low, and by producing virus occlusion bodies, which protect infectious particles after release into the environment, containing two or more baculovirus species.
Impact expected: The innovation, which has been licensed to an industrial partner, provides access to the global bioinsecticides market, currently valued at €1.2 billion and expected to almost quadruple over the next seven years. It is estimated that once it is fully exploited, over 70 million hectares around the world could make use of the new technology.