F O R O R G A N I C F A R M I N G
Botanical insecticides have long been touted as attractive alternatives to synthetic chemical insecticides for pest management because botanicals reputedly pose little threat to the environment or to human health. The body of scientific literature documenting bioactivity of plant derivatives to arthropod pests continues to expand, yet only a handful of botanicals are currently used in agriculture in the industrialized world, and there are few prospects for commercial development of new botanical products. Pyrethrum and neem are well established commercially, pesticides based on plant essential oils have recently entered the marketplace, and the use of rotenone appears to be waning.
A number of plant substances have been considered for use as insect antifeedants or repellents, but apart from some natural mosquito repellents, little commercial success has ensued for plant substances that modify arthropod behavior. Several factors appear to limit the success of botanicals, most notably regulatory barriers and the availability of competing products (newer synthetics, fermentation products, microbials) that are cost-effective and relatively safe compared with their predecessors. In the context of agricultural pest management, botanical insecticides are best suited for use in organic food production in industrialized countries but can play a much greater role in the production and postharvest protection of food in developing countries.
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