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Research Case Study - Biopesticides

Biopesticides are mass-produced, biologically based agents used for the control of plant pests. They can be living organisms (nematodes or micro-organisms) or naturally occurring substances, such as plant extracts or insect pheromones. Biopesticides are being used on increasing scales and there is considerable interest in their potential as alternatives to conventional pesticides.

RELU project: The Role of Regulation in Developing Biological Alternatives to Pesticides

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, a team from the University of Warwick (Wyn Grant, David Chandler, Julian Greaves, Gill Prince, Mark Tatchell) 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 project developed a series of recommendations to aid the commercialisation of biopesticides, and provided advice to regulators, policy-makers, several major UK supermarkets, and companies developing new products. A summary of the project and its impact is published on the BBSRC web site.

Warwick Crop Centre researchers are continuing to work on biopesticides through projects funded by the HDC:

CP 077 - SCEPTRE: Sustainable Crop & Environment Protection - Targeted Research for Edibles

The aim of this HortLINK project (HL01109) is to deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fruit and in vegetable crops. The results of this project are envisaged to support the approval of new products and devise integrated pest management (IPM) programmes. The research on control of pests of field vegetables is based at Warwick Crop Centre.

FV 389 - Combining biopesticides and other treatments to increase pest control:

The aim of the project is to determine whether combinations of biopesticide treatments or biopesticide/insecticide treatments improve pest control compared with using such treatments independently. The term ‘biopesticide’ is used in the broadest sense, so could include biocontrol agents, botanicals, semio-chemicals.

PE 005 - Protected edible crops: biological control of plant diseases using insect pathogenic fungi with dual activity against plant pathogens

The aim of this proof-of-concept study is to demonstrate the potential for using insect pathogenic fungi as biological control agents of damping off and powderymildew diseases affecting UK crops.


 Aphid infected with Verticillium lecanii

Aphid infected with Verticillium lecanii

Trial on leek - SCEPTRE project
Plot of leeks for the SCEPTRE project