Cultivating Wider Adoption of Biopesticides: Enabling Policies


Cultivating Wider Adoption of Biopesticides: Enabling Policies

Last year, Fera Science hosted a webinar on the Challenges and Future Opportunities of Biopesticides. Speaking alongside our experts and others from across the industry, Jennifer Lewis, presented her thoughts on ‘cultivating wider adoption of biopesticides’.

As the Executive Director of International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA), Jennifer is a leading figure in the industry and has vast expertise in how biological controls can contribute to a sustainable and resilient global agricultural system. Her presentation focused on three mechanisms and how they can create the supportive environment needed.

In this blog we will discuss the first of these themes and explore a regulatory landscape that has paved the way for exponential adoption of this crop protection technology.

The challenge

Being wholly reliant on just one or two crops per season can make many growers hesitant to move away from the conventional crop protection products which have served them well for decades.  

That hesitancy is compounded by the fact that adopting the use of biocontols often requires more than swapping one product for another - there can be a learning curve, both for the integrated pest management (IPM) approaches that support the use of biocontrols, and in the optimisation of the product(s).

For manufacturers and other stakeholders involved in the development, approval and marketing of biocontrols, there are other challenges. Globally, crop protection has been focused on conventional chemistry and the processes that govern their access to market, and their use, has evolved accordingly.

Applying the same mechanisms to biological crop protection products is often ineffective, inefficient and costly, but that’s changing. And in some parts of the world, it’s changing fast. But not without considerable effort by many individuals and organisations.

Enabling Policies: The Brazilian Success Story

In 2014, Brazil made a strategic shift in its regulations, which included:

  • registering biologicals not by crop, but by the target pest they controlled;
  • enabling just formulated products to be registered, rather than a two step process whereby active substances must initially be registered, followed by the subsequent registration of the formulated product;
  • having waivers for studies not relevant for biocontrol;
  •  and using a differentiated and prioritised queue for registration of biologicals.

The results were staggering. Between 2017 and 2020, Brazil witnessed a 42% compound annual growth rate in the use of biologicals, far surpassing the global average of 16%. This growth trend is predicted to continue.

By 2020, 40% of herbicides, 30% of insecticides, and 10% of fungicides in Brazil were biologicals, and the market penetration saw the area treated rise from 10 million hectares in 2019 to 23 million in 2022. In a survey, a resounding 98% of farmers said that would use the same biocontrol products again.

In the pursuit of wider adoption of biologicals in agriculture, it is crucial to draw inspiration from successful models and implement strategies that facilitate change. Enabling policies, exemplified by Brazil's regulatory overhaul, can serve as a blueprint for other nations.

The circular effect has been clear to see – policy change and more accessible markets has made Brazil an attractive place for investors, which has stimulated R&D and seen more products coming to market. That, in turn, has encouraged further adoption.

Through multiple private and public partnerships, manufacturers have been supporting farmers in developing the understanding needed to get the most from their products – whether that’s through adopting new strategies like IPM, or in optimising applications. While in many cases, the partnerships have developed organically, the knowledge exchange they facilitate has played a significant role in driving change on the ground.

In the next blog we’ll be exploring this topic in more depth and highlighting some of the initiatives that are underway here in the UK. If you would like to receive future updates about biopesticides, such as blog 2 'knowledge exchange and its impact on the adoption of biopesticides', in February. Click here to subscribe.

About Fera Science & Biocontrols

For over a century we’ve been delivering world-class science for our partners, for the future. With over 250 years of combined biopesticide expertise, our team of dedicated scientists are here to guide you through the evolving landscape of biopesticide regulations.

54 glasshouses, with state-of-the-art temperature-controlled facilities, growing 130,000 plants/year under GLP environments means we’ve the tools, as well as the knowledge and experience to provide you with comprehensive support from development to registration.

We cover it all, from discovery and efficacy testing to microbiology, 5 batch analysis, contaminant and residue analysis, storage stability testing, analytical chemistry, ecotoxicology, metabolism, and environmental fate.

If you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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