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(PPDC Meeting, May 9, 2002)

Information provided for informational purposes only

Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.

On May 9th, the PPDC will consider the topic of barriers to the adoption of biopesticides, including discussion of what can be done to overcome these barriers and to encourage wider use of safer pest management practices such as biopesticides. A panel discussion will include short presentations from PPDC members representing various stakeholders after an equally brief background description of biopesticides by the Director of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division. The discussion following these presentations will capture additional barriers and will then brainstorm possible solutions to the barriers and problems identified.

We would like you to give some thought to this topic before the PPDC meeting; so we are providing you with a general fact sheet on biopesticides and a list of the currently registered biopesticide active ingredients. Biopesticides include microbial pesticides, biochemicals and related compounds, and the plant-incorporated protectants. For this discussion we would like to defer the topic of plant-incorporated protectants (plants that produce their own pesticides) to a later time.

OPP considers biochemical pesticides to be naturally occurring compounds which are non-toxic to the target pest. While pheromones are synthetically produced, the compounds used as pesticide products are identical to the natural compounds. Biochemicals which suffocate an insect are lethal, but the mode of action is considered non-toxic. In addition, some compounds such as baking soda (potassium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) are not typical biochemicals, but because of their widespread use and the knowledge we have about potential risks, OPP has determined that these products do not warrant the complete data set required for a synthetic chemical pesticide. On the other hand, pyrethrin, rotenone, and spinosad are not biochemical pesticides because they are directly toxic to the insect. As the category "biochemical pesticide" cannot be tightly defined, OPP has a Biochemical Classification Committee that determines which compounds are included as biopesticides and which are not.

It might also be noted that the list of pesticide compounds accepted for organic production and the list classified as biopesticides do not match. Therefore, the discussion may go beyond the strict definition of biopesticides, but we do want to focus on biopesticides and safer pest management practices.

Despite having greatly increased the registration of biopesticides over the last 7 years, the adoption rate for biopesticides has not grown, many of the biopesticide companies are struggling, and some biopesticide companies have gone out of business.

What OPP would like to achieve from this session is a better understanding of the constraints from the viewpoint of farmers, crop consultants, processors, consumers, Extension Service, ARS, Land Grant Universities, and the biopesticides industry. Our focus, once barriers and constraints are identified, is how to overcome them. We hope to identify not only what EPA can do, but what others can and should be doing – Federal and State agencies, the biopesticide industry, crop consultants, academic researchers, and others.

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