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A biopesticide is a biological substance or organism that damages, kills, or repels organisms seen as pests. Biological pest management intervention involves predatory, parasitic, or chemical relationships.

They are obtained from organisms including plants, bacteria and other microbes, fungi, nematodes, etc.[1][page needed][2] They are components of integrated pest management (IPM) programmes, and have received much practical attention as substitutes to synthetic chemical plant protection products (PPPs).


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that biopesticides "are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals, and currently, there are 299 registered biopesticide active ingredients and 1401 active biopesticide product registrations."[3] The EPA also states that biopesticides "include naturally occurring substances that control pests (biochemical pesticides), microorganisms that control pests (microbial pesticides), and pesticidal substances produced by plants containing added genetic material (plant-incorporated protectants) or PIPs".[4]

The European Environmental Agency defines a biopesticide as “a pesticide made from biological sources, that is from toxins which occur naturally. - naturally occurring biological agents used to kill pests by causing specific biological effects rather than by inducing chemical poisoning.” Furthermore, the EEA defines a biopesticide as a pesticide in which “the active ingredient is a virus, fungus, or bacteria, or a natural product derived from a plant source. A biopesticide's mechanism of action is based on specific biological effects and not on chemical poisons.” [5]


Biopesticides usually have no known function in photosynthesis, growth or other basic aspects of plant physiology. Many chemical compounds produced by plants protect them from pests; they are called antifeedants. These materials are biodegradable and renewable, which can be economical for practical use. Organic farming systems embraces this approach to pest control.[6]

Biopesticides can be classified thusly:

RNA interference

RNA interference is under study for use in spray-on insecticides (RNAi insecticides) by companies including Syngenta and Bayer. Such sprays do not modify the genome of the target plant. The RNA can be modified to maintain its effectiveness as target species evolve to tolerate the original. RNA is a relatively fragile molecule that generally degrades within days or weeks of application. Monsanto estimated costs to be on the order of $5/acre.[12]

RNAi has been used to target weeds that tolerate Roundup. RNAi can be mixed with a silicone surfactant that lets the RNA molecules enter air-exchange holes in the plant's surface. This disrupted the gene for tolerance long enough to let the herbicide work. This strategy would allow the continued use of glyphosate-based herbicides.[12]

They can be made with enough precision to target specific insect species. Monsanto is developing an RNA spray to kill Colorado potato beetles. One challenge is to make it stay on the plant for a week, even if it's raining. The potato beetle has become resistant to more than 60 conventional insecticides.[12]

Monsanto lobbied the U.S. EPA to exempt RNAi pesticide products from any specific regulations (beyond those that apply to all pesticides) and be exempted from rodent toxicity, allergenicity and residual environmental testing. In 2014 an EPA advisory group found little evidence of a risk to people from eating RNA.[12]

However, in 2012, the Australian Safe Food Foundation claimed that the RNA trigger designed to change the starch content of wheat might interfere with the gene for a human liver enzyme. Supporters countered that RNA does not appear to survive human saliva or stomach acids. The US National Honey Bee Advisory Board told EPA that using RNAi would put natural systems at "the epitome of risk". The beekeepers cautioned that pollinators could be hurt by unintended effects and that the genomes of many insects are still undetermined. Other unassessed risks include ecological (given the need for sustained presence for herbicides) and possible RNA drift across species boundaries.[12]

Monsanto invested in multiple companies for their RNA expertise, including Beeologics (for RNA that kills a parasitic mite that infests hives and for manufacturing technology) and Preceres (nanoparticle lipidoid coatings) and licensed technology from Alnylam and Tekmira. In 2012 Syngenta acquired Devgen, a European RNA partner. Startup Forest Innovations is investigating RNAi as a solution to citrus greening disease that in 2014 caused 22 percent of oranges in Florida to fall off the trees.[12]


Mycopesticides include fungi and fungi cell components. Propagules such as conidia, blastospores, chlamydospores, oospores, and zygospores have been evaluated, along with hydrolytic enzyme mixtures. The role of hydrolytic enzymes especially chitinases in the killing process, and the possible use of chitin synthesis inhibitors are the prime research areas.[13]


The encapsulation of some biological compounds in nanoparticulate systems has been shown to improve their effectiveness against pests, reduce their toxicity toward people and the environment, and lessen the losses caused by physical deterioration (such as volatilization and leaching).[14][15][16] Thus, nanotechnology may aid in the creation of less toxic biopesticides with acceptable safety profiles, greater active agent stability, improved efficacy against the intended pests, and higher end-user acceptance.[15][17][18] Neem (Azadirachta indica) oil can be effectively protected from quick degradation by the use of nanoparticles, providing a more sustained action on the intended pests. The biodegradable polymers utilised in this type of formulation enable continuous administration of the active ingredient with no damage to the environment. Because there is currently a lack of extensive understanding regarding risk assessment factors and the subsequent toxicity of nanoparticles towards components of agroecosystems after their release into the environment, future research must focus on ways to avoid the risks associated with the use of nanoparticles.[19]


Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterium capable of causing disease of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera. The toxin from B. thuringiensis (Bt toxin) has been incorporated directly into plants via genetic engineering. Bt toxin manufacturers claim it has little effect on other organisms, and is more environmentally friendly than synthetic pesticides.

Other microbial control agents include products based on:

Various animal, fungal, and plant organisms and extracts have been used as biopesticides. Products in this category include:


Microbial agents, effective control requires appropriate formulation[23] and application.[24][25]

Biopesticides have established themselves on a variety of crops for use against crop disease. For example, biopesticides help control downy mildew diseases. Their benefits include: a 0-day pre-harvest interval (see: maximum residue limit), success under moderate to severe disease pressure, and the ability to use as a tank mix or in a rotational program with other fungicides. Because some market studies estimate that as much as 20% of global fungicide sales are directed at downy mildew diseases, the integration of biofungicides into grape production has substantial benefits by extending the useful life of other fungicides, especially those in the reduced-risk category.[citation needed]

A major growth area for biopesticides is in the area of seed treatments and soil amendments. Fungicidal and biofungicidal seed treatments are used to control soil-borne fungal pathogens that cause seed rot, damping-off, root rot and seedling blights. They can also be used to control internal seed-borne fungal pathogens as well as fungal pathogens on the seed surface. Many biofungicidal products show capacities to stimulate plant host defense and other physiological processes that can make treated crops more resistant to stresses.[citation needed]


Market research

The market for agricultural biologicals was forecast to reach $19.5 billion by 2031.[27]

See also


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  2. ^ "Regulating Biopesticides". Pesticides. Environmental Protection Agency of the USA. 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  3. ^ US EPA, OCSPP (2015-08-31). "What are Biopesticides?". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  4. ^ US EPA, OCSPP (2015-08-31). "Biopesticides". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  5. ^ "biopesticide — European Environment Agency". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  6. ^ a b Pal GK, Kumar B. "Antifungal activity of some common weed extracts against wilt causing fungi, Fusarium oxysporum" (PDF). Current Discovery. 2 (1): 62–67. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b Coombs, Amy (1 June 2013). "Fighting Microbes with Microbes". The Scientist. Archived from the original on 2013-01-07. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  8. ^ Malherbe, Stephanus (21 January 2017). "Listing 17 microbes and their effects on soil, plant health and biopesticide functions". Explogrow. London. Archived from the original on 2016-02-19. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  9. ^ Francis Borgio J, Sahayaraj K and Alper Susurluk I (eds) . Microbial Insecticides: Principles and Applications, Nova Publishers, USA. 492pp. ISBN 978-1-61209-223-2
  10. ^ Isman, Murray B. (2006). "Botanical Insecticides, Deterrents, and Repellants in Modern Agriculture and an Increasingly Regulated World". Annual Review of Entomology. 51: 45–66. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.51.110104.151146. PMID 16332203. S2CID 32196104.
  11. ^ National Pesticide Information Center. Last updated November 21, 2013 Plant Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) / Genetically Modified Plants
  12. ^ a b c d e f "With BioDirect, Monsanto Hopes RNA Sprays Can Someday Deliver Drought Tolerance and Other Traits to Plants on Demand | MIT Technology Review". Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  13. ^ Deshpande, M. V. (1999-01-01). "Mycopesticide Production by Fermentation: Potential and Challenges". Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 25 (3): 229–243. doi:10.1080/10408419991299220. ISSN 1040-841X. PMID 10524330.
  14. ^ de Oliveira, Jhones Luiz; Campos, Estefânia Vangelie Ramos; Bakshi, Mansi; Abhilash, P.C.; Fraceto, Leonardo Fernandes (December 2014). "Application of nanotechnology for the encapsulation of botanical insecticides for sustainable agriculture: Prospects and promises". Biotechnology Advances. 32 (8): 1550–1561. doi:10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.10.010. ISSN 0734-9750. PMID 25447424.
  15. ^ a b Bakry, Amr M.; Abbas, Shabbar; Ali, Barkat; Majeed, Hamid; Abouelwafa, Mohamed Y.; Mousa, Ahmed; Liang, Li (2015-11-13). "Microencapsulation of Oils: A Comprehensive Review of Benefits, Techniques, and Applications". Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 15 (1): 143–182. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12179. ISSN 1541-4337. PMID 33371581.
  16. ^ Giongo, Angelina Maria Marcomini; Vendramim, José Djair; Forim, Moacir Rossi (February 2016). "Evaluation of neem-based nanoformulations as alternative to control fall armyworm". Ciência e Agrotecnologia. 40 (1): 26–36. doi:10.1590/s1413-70542016000100002. ISSN 1413-7054. S2CID 89521267.
  17. ^ Bandeppa; Gobinath, R.; Latha, P. C.; Manasa, V.; Chavan, Satish (2019), "Soil Ecological Pros and Cons of Nanomaterials: Impact on Microorganisms and Soil Health", Nanotechnology for Agriculture, Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 145–159, doi:10.1007/978-981-32-9370-0_10, ISBN 978-981-329-369-4, S2CID 210620631, retrieved 2022-10-17
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  20. ^ Benhamou, N.; Lafontaine, P. J.; Nicole, M. (December 2012). "Induction of Systemic Resistance to Fusarium Crown and Root Rot in Tomato Plants by Seed Treatment with Chitosan" (PDF). Phytopathology. 84 (12). American Phytopathological Society: 1432–44. doi:10.1094/Phyto-84-1432. ISSN 0031-949X. OCLC 796025684. Retrieved February 8, 2014.Open access icon
  21. ^ "Canola Oil insectide" (PDF). 18 Nov 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  22. ^ "EU Pesticides database - European Commission". Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  23. ^ Burges, H.D. (ed.) 1998 Formulation of Microbial Biopesticides, beneficial microorganisms, nematodes and seed treatments Publ. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 412 pp.
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