Biopesticides are mass-produced, biologically based agents used for the control of plant pests.
These products can be divided into three sub categories:
Living organisms (primarily predatory insects, parasitoids, nematodes or micro-organisms)
Naturally occurring substances, such as plant extracts or insect pheromones
In some countries, such as the USA, genetically modified plants that express introduced genes that confer protection against pests or diseases (so called plant incorporated products) are also classified as biopesticides
Biopesticides are being used on increasing scales. For example, the management of invertebrate pests of protected edible crops in the UK and the Netherlands is now done mainly with natural enemies supplied by specialised companies.
The use of biopesticides based on micro-organisms and naturally occurring substances is governed by a regulatory system that was developed according to a chemical pesticides model. This can act as a barrier to biopesticide commercialisation.
Through research funded by the UK RELU (Rural Economy and Land Use) programme, we have investigated the regulatory and environmental sustainability of biopesticides in the UK, and compared regulatory developments here with other systems in Europe and the USA. The research was done by an interdisciplinary team from Warwick HRI (Dave Chandler, Gill Prince), Biological Sciences (Mark Tatchell) and Politics and International Studies (Wyn Grant and Justin Greaves).
There is extensive material about this work at the project website: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/biopesticides/
Some findings of the research are in these papers:
Chandler, D., Davidson, G., Grant, W. P., Greaves, J. & Tatchell, G. M. (2008). Microbial biopesticides for Integrated Crop Management: an assessment of environmental and regulatory sustainability. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 19, 275 – 283.
Chandler, D., Grant, W., Greaves, J., Prince, G., Tatchell, M. (2008). Improving the availability of biopesticides: an interdisciplinary research project.. Outlooks on Pest Management. 19: 2, 77-80.
Watch the Warwick icast: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/icast/archive/week4/bio
Damage caused by spider mites - an important target for control with biopesticides