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Biopesticides

Emilio Montesinos

Catedrático de Producción Vegetal (Patología Vegetal) Instituto de Tecnología Agroalimentaria INTEA-CIDSAV. Universitat de Girona

Biopesticides are products used to control crop pests and diseases through modes of action that are based on natural processes, although the definition of what is "natural" is variously influenced by regulations and by social perceptions. Biopesticides can be classified as either microbial plant protection products, which generally act directly on the pest or pathogen, or indirect-action products, considered unconventional because they either act as barriers or stimulate plant defense mechanisms.

Demand for healthy fruit and vegetables produced with a minimal environmental impact has led to new European regulatory measures on pesticide use and plant protection strategies. These measures reinforce the agricultural role of biopesticides.

Biopesticides are products used to control crop pests and diseases through modes of action that are based on natural processes, although the definition of what is "natural" is variously influenced by regulations and by social perceptions. Biopesticides can be classified as either microbial plant protection products, which generally act directly on the pest or pathogen, or indirect-action products, considered unconventional because they either act as barriers or stimulate plant defense mechanisms.

Demand for healthy fruit and vegetables produced with a minimal environmental impact has led to new European regulatory measures on pesticide use and plant protection strategies. These measures reinforce the agricultural role of biopesticides. According to the new legal framework, biological and physical plant protection measures should be preferred, and tolerance and action thresholds for crop protection must be considered. Biopesticide authorization requirements are similar to those for conventional pesticides, and include a risk assessment component. Of all plant protection products currently authorized in the EU, 15% are biopesticides (6% microbial, 9% non-conventional). Most are accepted in organic farming.

R&D challenges chiefly arise from the need to make biopesticides more effective and to gain better knowledge of their biosafety and mechanisms of action (whether direct or through stimulation of plant defenses). Research on beneficial microorganisms currently focuses on increasing shelf life through advanced formulation techniques, improving effectiveness through physiological and genetic intervention, and learning more about their impact on plant microbiota. Research on unconventional products, particularly plant extracts, is devoted to chemical and biochemical characterization of such products, identification of their active components, and determining their safety.

Biopesticides receive special attention in the R&D plans of governments and agricultural companies. A very large share of public and private plant health research projects, published papers, and conference presentations have to do with developing biocontrol agents or more sustainable pest and disease control methods. Hundreds of biopesticide technology patents, particularly for microorganism strains, also emphasize the current importance of these methods.

Additionally, business activity is rising, involving both small and medium companies (e.g. members of the International Biocontrol Manufacturers' Association [IBMA] or of the Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Agronutrientes [AEFA]), and multinational companies that manufacture plant protection products (members of the Asociación Empresarial para la Protección de las Plantas [AEPLA]). Also of note, in the present context, are the new spin-off companies set up by enterprising researchers working for public research organizations.

We can conclude that biopesticides will help to address future challenges to plant protection arising from market globalization, the emergence of new pests and diseases, and the impact of climate change.

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In accordance with the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data 15/1999, of 13 December, Promotora de Exportaciones Catalanas SA (hereinafter PRODECA), whose address is Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 620, principal, 08007 Barcelona, with tax reg. no. NIF A58241316, declares that the images contained on the website www.smartfruitcongress.cat are included in a file belonging to PRODECA. The purpose of this file is the promotion, via its website, of the activities conducted by PRODECA – SmartfFruit IPM International Congress.

PRODECA guarantees that you may, at any time, exercise your right to access, rectify, cancel or oppose by writing to the aforesaid postal address, using the reference "PROTECCIÓN DE DATOS - SMARTFRUIT", or to the email address smartfruitcongress@smartfruitcongress.cat.

Specifically, to correctly exercise these rights you must clearly provide the following items in that communication:
- Name, surname(s) and photocopy of National Identity Document or Passport.
- Statement of the purpose of the request.
- Address for notification purposes.
PRODECA also declares that it reserves the right to delete from its website any content that it considers violates current and applicable legislation.

D’acord amb l’article 17.1 de la Llei 19/2014, la ©Generalitat de Catalunya permet la reutilització dels continguts i de les dades sempre que se'n citi la font i la data d'actualització i que no es desnaturalitzi la informació (article 8 de la Llei 37/2007) i també que no es contradigui amb una llicència específica.