Insect-killing fungi can wean agriculture off fossil synthetics

World bio market insights

These fungi can protect crops without the toxicity and carbon footprints of chemical pesticides

An estimated 20 – 40 percent of crop yield are lost to pests each year. Although synthetic insect-killing formulas have been the go-to solution since the 1960s, their dangers for human and ecosystem health are pushing some agtech companies to find organic solutions. Insect-combatting fungi is one of them.

One important advantage of natural insecticides is that it is more targeted than their synthetic counterparts. Synthetics don’t just kill unwanted crop pests but also their natural predators, which would normally keep populations in check. Synthetic pesticides are also indiscriminate when it comes to pollinator species like bees, whose populations have plummeted thanks to intensive chemical applications. In 2021, the UK government rolled back a blanket ban on synthetic pesticide Neonicotinoid to confront a particularly infectious strain of sugar beet virus spread by aphids. This underlines the urgency of developing organic alternatives to protect economically important crops.  

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