Biopesticide: A safe alternative to chemical pesticides

We all love to eat tasty food. However, it is also important to know if the so called tasty food we consume is keeping us healthy. The most popular and advisable healthy diet we can think of are fruits and vegetables, but are these fruits or vegetables really serving the purpose they are famous for?

Being a source of livelihood and food security of the nation, agriculture holds prime importance among the socio-economic factors of India .58% of rural population is dependent on agriculture as their livelihood. But this sector has to face various challenges and overcome it to ensure sustainability . One of such critical challenges faced by agriculture is increasing pest attacks. The increase in number of pest attacks and variety of pests attacking the field have increased with time. These pest attacks pose a serious threat causing damage to crops and in turn affecting the food security of the nation. Every year in India pests and diseases eat away on an average 15-25% of food produced by the farmers. This heavy losses incurred by farmers forces them to use crop protectants , most of these crop protectants are synthesized chemically and are popularly known as ‘Pesticides’.The pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, nematicide, rodenticide etc. Pesticides are chemicals that inhibit or kill pests. Although pesticides have benefits, most of them also have drawbacks, such as potential toxicity to humans and other species, negative impact on the environment .The pesticides which are sprayed on the crops are absorbed and accumulated by the plants while growing. The controversy on use and abuse of pesticide has surfaced due to its
rampant use as it is generally believed by its users that “ If little is good, lot more will be better” So an alternate solution for these harmful substances has become need of the hour. The alternate for these harmful chemicals are ‘Biopesticide’.

As the name suggests, the solution to the problem is provided by nature itself. Bio-pesticides are new age crop protectants manufactured from natural substances like plants, animals, bacteria and certain minerals .They are eco-friendly, easy to use and acquire more potential than its chemical counterpart.
The Biopesticides can be classified into 3 main types.
1)Biochemical pesticides-These are naturally occurring substances that control pests by non-toxic
mechanisms,unlike pesticides that directly kills or inactivates pest. These substance interferes with
mating such as insect sex pheromones,as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect
pests to traps,natural insect regulators.

2)Microbial pesticides- consist of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest. For example, Trichoderma sp. Lecanicillium sp. Bacillus, Clostridium, Pseudomonas Nuclear polyhedrosis viruses (NPV).

3)Plant-Incorporated- Protectants (PIPs) – are pesticidal substances that plants produce by itself due to genetic material that has been inserted to the plant by genetic engineering. For example, gene addition for the Bacillus.thuringenesis pesticidal protein into the plant's own genetic material. Then the plant manufactures the pesticidal substance that destroys the pest. The protein and its genetic material are regulated by EPA.

Some advantages of Biopesticides
– Inherently less toxic than conventional pesticides.
– Generally affects only the target pest and closely related organisms,thereby reducing risk to
other species
– Effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly,avoiding the pollution
problems
– Reduces the use of conventional pesticides, while maintaining the high crop yield.

Reference-
 Next Generation Indian Agriculture – Role of Crop Protection Solutions a report on Indian
Agrochemical Industry July 2016
 www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides

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