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Agriculture Made Sustainable, Episode 2: Biopesticides and Sustainability

“Agriculture Made Sustainable” is a Food Circle project designed to create an awareness-raising process about sustainable agriculture, especially organic farming. It discusses the barriers, problems, challenges, advantages, and disadvantages of sustainable development in organic agriculture. Since various sectors such as plant nutrition, pest control, plant protection, soil, seeds, agricultural tools, and machinery are parts of the process, awareness can promote and develop sustainable agriculture to reduce the adverse effects of climate change global warming.

“Biopesticides can be considered a tool for developing sustainable structures.”

What are we talking about?

Sustainable development in agriculture requires creating solutions to improve the quality and quantity of organic production methods, relying on innovation and creativity, solutions that can save the flow of agricultural products from chemicals and provide organic alternatives. Biopesticides have always been one of these solutions with their advantages and disadvantages. However, the widespread consumption of these products has not yet been prevalent in all regions of the world.

“Degraded soils and groundwater pollution have resulted in nutritionally imbalanced and unproductive lands. Violative pesticide residues also sometimes raise food safety concerns among domestic consumers and pose trade impediments for export crops. Therefore, an eco-friendly alternative is the need of the hour. An eco-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides is biopesticides, encompassing a broad array of microbial pesticides, biochemicals derived from micro-organisms and other natural sources, and processes involving the genetic incorporation of DNA into agricultural commodities that confer protection against pest damage. (Suman Gupta and A. K. Dikshit, 2010)” [1]

Biopesticides have been used for many years. Humans have always utilized these natural products. Using Biopesticides as an agricultural technique has always been used in farming. Thus they protect part of their crops from harmful pests, diseases, and Herb damage.“In the last few decades, the production of biopesticides has increased considerably and is projected to continue rising in the next half-decade. (Leo M.L. Nollet and Hamir Singh Rathore, 2015)” [2]

What is the Biopesticide?

Biopesticides are a specialized type of pesticide based on natural materials. The materials used for these pesticides may not be complex and may even be obtained from plants in nature. Still, the specialized effect of these pesticides on pests can be sufficient as a natural control parameter. Biopesticides can be considered a tool for the development of sustainable structures. The nature-oriented potential of these products has caused the attention of experts in integrated management programs and the development of organic agriculture to be more focused on the consumption of these products.

Sustainable Agriculture and Biopesticides

Excessive use of chemical pesticides and direct effects on animals, humans, and the environment have also led to the secondary impacts known as "residual toxins" and lead to long-term abnormalities in the body of animals, especially humans. If they enter the human body, these toxic residues are stored in organs such as the liver and are irreversible. “Pesticides are one of the major inputs used for increasing the agricultural productivity of crops. The pesticide residues left to a variable extent in the food materials after harvesting are beyond the control of consumers and have a harmful effect on human health. (Usha Bajwa & Kulwant Singh Sandhu, 2014)” [3]

In some areas, the marketing process is quickly done while the product cost remains increasingly due to the fluctuation of the price of agricultural products in the market! As we mentioned, biopesticides can significantly reduce the use of chemical pesticides and lower this sheer dependence, especially in areas where the period of chemical pesticides is not observed, and the harvest process is quicker.

“Biopesticides would be those things included in the definition of pesticide, but with several modifications as noted above, in particular, “naturally occurring.” Some people include synthetic pesticides derived from natural compounds as biopesticides. Third-generation pest control agents, reduced-risk pesticides, and biobased pesticides are interchangeable with biopesticides. Whatever the definition, the desirable qualities are (1) Naturally occurring chemicals or their derivatives, (2) Reduced toxicity to nontarget organisms, (3) Reduced persistence in the environment, (4) Usable in organic agriculture, (5) Low mammalian toxicity, (6) Safe for farm workers and nearby residents, (7) “Green” technology, (8) Nonrestricted use (James N. Seiber et al., 2014)” [4]

“The preharvest interval (PHI) is the minimum amount of time between the last application of a pesticide and when the crop can be harvested. Harvest is the cutting of the crop or removal of the produce from the plant. The PHI is found on the pesticide label. Complying with a PHI is a legal requirement.” [5]

Experimental Approaches to Biopesticides

The most essential and reliable feature of bio-pesticides is that they are very effective in minimal amounts according to the pest control program and determining the peak point of the pest activity. On the other hand, due to the natural origin of biopesticides, they decompose quickly, and no trace of them remains, which is a unique feature. In general, bio-pesticides can help reduce pollution caused by chemical toxins. The following characteristics of bio-pesticides are the point of their specialized effect. This feature allows the pesticide to act selectively and leave fewer secondary interactions. There are several examples of this, such as canola oil and baking soda, and Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. These are just some of the ingredients used in connection with biopesticides.

Various compounds and substances produce bio-pesticides, and particular combinations are used according to pest biology. The most commonly used species are (1) Tanacetum, (2) Derris, (3) Nicotiana, and (4) Azadirachta.

Images: Tanacetum, Derris, Nicotiana, Azadirachta

Moreover, several other species are used in the production process according to the point of pest control effect. These biopesticides are used as insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, but in more specialized cases may also be used on species of storage pests such as rodents.

In Conclusion:

The importance of production has played a different role in human life today. Sustainable food production and control from the beginning of the production cycle to presentation in the distribution basket are the main pillars of daily human life. Although there is a need for more production given the planet's population, quality and safety are the two main pillars. Biopesticides have shown that in addition to controlling pests and plant diseases, they can also have no toxic residues of competing plants in the field and minimize the risk of agricultural products' remaining toxins. Since sustainable development in agriculture requires methods compatible with organic production, biopesticides can be given more attention as an integral solution. Upgrading these compounds should be one of the short-term goals of product development to be used in more diverse crops.

Author: Majid Zamanshoar


More Information:

  • FAO, Biopesticides for locust control, [online] Available at: Biopesticides for locust control | FAO | Food, and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

  • FAO, Biopesticides, [online] Available at: Biopesticides (

  • EPA, What are Biopesticides?, [online] Available at: What are Biopesticides? | US EPA

  • OECD, Biological pesticides, [online] Available at: Biological pesticides - OECD

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