'No solid evidence' for biopesticide-diarrhea link

July 17, 2017

A report commissioned by EU food regulators wrongly linked a highly effective biopesticide with diarrhoea in humans, an expert says.

A review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) posed a health risk equivalent to a related bacterium which causes diarrhoea.

But Dr Ben Raymond, of the University of Exeter, said there was "no solid evidence" Bt caused diarrhoea.

Writing in the journal FEMS Microbiology Ecology, he said recent evidence supported the view that Bt bacteria - especially the strains used in biopesticides - were "very safe for humans".

Microbial biopesticides are microscopic organisms that are used to control pests such as insects.

They are used as an alternative to chemical pesticides, and various strains of Bt are used to kill pests including fly and mosquito larvae, caterpillars and beetles.

"Microbial biopesticides based on Bt are widely recognised as being among the safest and least environmentally damaging insecticidal products available," said Dr Raymond, of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"It's the biggest-selling microbial control agent in the world, and it's a vital part of many environmentally friendly pest management systems."

EFSA commissioned a review of Bt safety after a food poisoning incident in Germany, but Dr Raymond said the review was "a poor representation of the evidence" and its findings were "potentially very damaging" to the bio-control industry and horticultural growers.

"Contrary to EFSA's findings, a critical examination of available data - and this latest incident - provide no solid evidence that Bt causes diarrhoea," he said.

"Bt has been used perfectly safely for 70 years, and EFSA's review created ambiguity where there was no need to.

"The Bacillus cereus group - to which Bt belongs, does contain bacteria which can make humans ill.

"But the evidence shows that the group is made up of distinct sections, and the section posing the greatest risk is only distantly related to the one containing all biopesticides.

"No strain produced to kill insects has been shown to cause infections or pose risks to humans."
The article, co-authored by Professor Brian Federici from the University of California, is entitled: "In defence of Bacillus thuringiensis, the safest and most successful microbial insecticide available to humanity - a response to EFSA."

University of Exeter

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.