Bayer gains rights to bioinsecticide set to be a first for arable crops

25 April 2024 | Muriel Cozier

‘With increasingly strong demand from farmers and changing consumer preferences, we see major growth potential for biological crop protection.’

Bayer has gained the exclusive rights to a new biological insecticide developed by UK-based AlphaBio Control.

The new bioinsecticide, said to be the first of its kind available for arable crops, is based on an existing product derived from a natural byproduct of extra virgin olive oil.

Aimed at arable crops, the new product could be used against coleoptera insects such as the cabbage stem flea beetle, which can damage oilseed rape. This beetle is widespread in the UK and throughout much of Europe, and treatments available for dealing with this pest, and other diseases, have been limited by EU regulations intended to protect the environment and human health.

The growing resistance to available treatments is a major issue for farmers of arable crops. Dr Julian Little, a spokesperson for AlphaBio Control said: ‘Whilst the specific uses of the new product have yet to be defined, resistance to it is unlikely, and independent studies that have been carried out suggest that beetles such as cabbage stem flea beetle, that are resistant to pyrethroids, are controlled by [a product that has already been developed by AlphaBio Control] and therefore are likely to be controlled by the new product.’

Ralf Glaubitz, a head of global asset management at Bayer’s Crop Science Division added, ‘With increasingly strong demand from farmers and changing consumer preferences, we see major growth potential for biological crop protections.’

The new biological insecticide, which is currently known as ABP111, is going through the EU’s authorisation process. ‘Products derived from food grade active ingredients, such as this new bioinsecticide, do not have the same level of risk assessment in terms of human safety since they are deemed ‘safe to eat’.’ said Little.

The need for novel products to control pests and diseases in arable crops, was highlighted earlier this month with the release of a special issue of SCI’s journal Pest Management Science: Integrated Pest Control in Oil Seed Crops. Edited by Dr Sam Cook and Prof Małgorzata Jędryczka, it gives an overview of the work being done in the area of pest and disease control in oilseed rape.

As the special issue was released Dr Cook said, ‘Since the banning of neonicotinoid seed treatments by the EU, insect pest management on oilseed rape has become a massive challenge as pyrethroid insecticides are now pretty much the only permitted treatments and pests have become resistant to these. Farmers really are in a position where they cannot control the attacks on their crops.’

AlphaBio Control is involved in ongoing research to meet the growing need for new treatments with Little adding, ‘AlphaBio Control is also involved in the development of a new biofungicide, code named ABP590, which formally entered the regulatory approval process in the European Union in May last year.’

ABP111 is planned to become available by 2028.

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