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New Avenue of Approach for Controlling Crop Pests

It is well-documented that soybean pests–i.e. insects, diseases, and weeds–have developed and are continuing to develop resistance to chemical pesticides. Thus, there is no doubt that a new approach to pest control in soybeans–and in fact all crop plants–must be identified. In all likelihood, this will involve using control measures that do not involve chemical pesticides since there do not appear to be any with new or novel modes of action on the horizon. This, then, leads to investigating the utility of biological controls to do the job.

This concept is addressed in a Delta FarmPress article titled “A different approach to biological control“ by Willie Vogt. This article highlights the ongoing work being conducted by OerthBio, whose website highlights the need for greener, safer, and more sustainable solutions that will allow the world’s food production system to meet future demands. Also, the company highlights the known fact that existing pesticides and herbicides are becoming less effective for controlling pests and weeds. Thus, they are proposing new sustainable technology to improve the global food system.

Their work is based on PROTAC® [PROteolysis TArgeting Chimera] technology that has shown promise for treating a variety of human diseases. OerthBio is translating the PROTAC technology from its human origins to plants and agriculture. The company sees potential in using their Attune™ proprietary R&D platform to develop solutions that hopefully will solve problems that face the global food system. According to information on the company’s website, this platform will harness a natural biological system within living organisms without affecting the organisms’ DNA or their environment. Their approach will hopefully result in products with new modes of action to address resistance development in plant pests and weeds that infest crops.

Biotalys and Syngenta Crop Protection are collaborating to research, develop, and commercialize biocontrol products to manage and control pests in crops. These solutions will be focused on protein-based biocontrol agents to target specific crop pests. The collaboration will explore innovative and effective biological solutions that should limit the impact of pest control on the environment and biodiversity. Their approach will utilize the Biotalys AGROBODY Foundry platform to target specific plant pests with novel modes of action.

Currently, biological products to address crop plant issues are in the developmental phase. Hopefully these early efforts will lead to discoveries that can be used by producers to effectively supplant their use of a significant portion of the chemical pesticides that are now applied. Such discoveries also should counter the resistance to the modes of action of currently-used chemical pesticides that is occurring in the myriad soybean pests.

Without a doubt, chemical pesticides have played and still do play a significant role in the success of modern agriculture. However, there is little doubt that resistance development in crop pests is rendering these remedies less and less effective. This, then, supports the above efforts to find new avenues of control to thwart the many pests and weeds that affect crops. The hope is that the aforementioned new technologies will provide ecofriendly remedies to address the myriad threats to global food production. Producers are encouraged to access the company websites above to learn the specifics of their biological approaches to pest control, and the potential/hoped for outcomes.

Unfortunately, the information provided here cannot be used to provide a definitive case for the successful development of biological pesticides. Rather, it is meant to make producers aware of current efforts that are underway to create new and innovative products that may be used to sustain and even increase agricultural production. Soybean producers are cautioned to have a distinct goal and/or a specific pest/weed in mind if/when the decision is made to use any of the biocontrol products that may be forthcoming since in all likelihood these new products will target a specific pest.

This article is a sequel to “The Case for Biological Pesticides for Soybeans” that was posted on this website in Nov. 2017.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, May 2023,