Bacteria for Pest Control

Up-to-date news on microbiological pest control being approved for agriculture, and a refuge for endangered North American apples.

Photo by Adobe Stock/kaentian

Chemical fungicides used in commercial farming continue to be a source of pollution and stress on the environment. However, one of the international leaders in sustainable bioprotection, Marrone Bio Innovations, has announced promising news for crop protection. The company's bacterial biofungicide, sold as Stargus in the United States, has been approved for use in Mexico. The plant-friendly fungicide combats diseases in zucchini and other squash, cucumber, watermelon, and potato crops. It also controls downy mildews and late blight, common ailments in humid climates.

The active ingredient in Stargus is a new strain of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, which is now known as B. nakamurai. This strain was approved for use in Mexico because of its low toxicity profile, making it a healthier alternative to the fungicides currently in use.

Mexico is one of the largest suppliers of foreign fruits and vegetables to the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the country exported $26 billion worth of produce to the U.S. in 2018 alone. Putting Stargus into the hands of Mexican farmers will ease their reliance on chemical fungicides, with ripple effects stretching to all buyers of Mexican produce. Pamela Marrone, the founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, says that Stargus will be ready to use in the upcoming 2020 Mexican farming season.

In the beginning of 2019, Stargus was also approved for use in Canada, meaning that the product is widespread throughout North America. Now, American citizens can be more certain that their imported foods include less chemical residue.

Historic Orchard Campaign for Seed Savers Exchange

In many ways, apples are an iconic North American fruit, but the limited options available in most grocery stores don’t reflect this rich, yet threatened, heritage. Seed Savers Exchange ensures that more than 1,200 amazing apple cultivars are preserved in its Historic Orchard, protecting the diverse beauty and taste of North America’s 19th-century apple heritage.



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