Nav: Home

'Killer spices' provide eco-friendly pesticides for organic fruits and veggies

August 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2009 -- Mention rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint and most people think of a delicious meal. Think bigger...acres bigger. These well-known spices are now becoming organic agriculture's key weapons against insect pests as the industry tries to satisfy demands for fruits and veggies among the growing portion of consumers who want food produced in more natural ways.

In a study presented here today at the American Chemical Society's 238th National Meeting, scientists in Canada are reporting exciting new research on these so-called "essential oil pesticides" or "killer spices." These substances represent a relatively new class of natural insecticides that show promise as an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional pesticides while also posing less risk to human and animal health, the researcher says.

"We are exploring the potential use of natural pesticides based on plant essential oils -- commonly used in foods and beverages as flavorings," says study presenter Murray Isman, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia. These new pesticides are generally a mixture of tiny amounts of two to four different spices diluted in water. Some kill insects outright, while others repel them.

Over the past decade, Isman and colleagues tested many plant essential oils and found that they have a broad range of insecticidal activity against agricultural pests. Some spiced-based commercial products now being used by farmers have already shown success in protecting organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops against destructive aphids and mites, the researcher says.

"These products expand the limited arsenal of organic growers to combat pests," explains Isman. "They're still only a small piece of the insecticide market, but they're growing and gaining momentum."

The natural pesticides have several advantages. Unlike conventional pesticides, these "killer spices" do not require extensive regulatory approval and are readily available. An additional advantage is that insects are less likely to evolve resistance -- the ability to shrug off once-effective toxins -- Isman says. They're also safer for farm workers, who are at high risk for pesticide exposure, he notes.

But the new pesticides also have shortcomings. Since essential oils tend to evaporate quickly and degrade rapidly in sunlight, farmers need to apply the spice-based pesticides to crops more frequently than conventional pesticides. Some last only a few hours, compared to days or even months for conventional pesticides. As these natural pesticides are generally less potent than conventional pesticides, they also must be applied in higher concentrations to achieve acceptable levels of pest control, Isman says. Researchers are now seeking ways of making the natural pesticides longer-lasting and more potent, he notes.

"They're not a panacea for pest control," cautions Isman. Conventional pesticides are still the most effective way to control caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles and other large insects on commercial food crops, he says. "But at the end of the day, it comes down to what's good for the environment and what's good for human health."

The "killer spices" aren't just limited to agricultural use. Some show promise in the home as eco-friendly toxins and repellents against mosquitoes, flies, and roaches. Unlike conventional bug sprays, which have a harsh odor, these natural pesticides tend to have a pleasant, spicy aroma. Many contain the same oils that are used in aromatherapy products, including cinnamon and peppermint, Isman notes.

Manufacturers have already developed spice-based products that can repel ticks and fleas on dogs and cats without harming the animals. Researchers are now exploring the use of other spice-based products for use on fruits and vegetables to destroy microbes, such as E. coil and Salmonella, which cause food poisoning.

Other scientists are currently exploring the insect-fighting potential of lavender, basil, bergamot, patchouli oil, and at least a dozen other oils from exotic plant sources in China. Funding for this study was provided by EcoSMART®, a botanical pesticide company based in Alpharetta, Ga.
-end-
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

Related Pesticides Articles:

Nanozymes -- efficient antidote against pesticides
Members of the Faculty of Chemistry of the Lomonosov Moscow State University have developed novel nanosized agents -- nanozymes, which could be used as efficient protective and antidote modalities against the impact of neurotoxic organophosphorous compounds: pesticides and chemical warfare agents.
Study examines pesticides' impact on wood frogs
A new study looks at how neonicotinoid pesticides affect wood frogs, which use surface waters in agricultural environments to breed and reproduce.
USDA announces $1.8 million for research on next generation pesticides
The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $1.8 million in available funding to research new, environmentally friendly pesticides and innovative tools and strategies to replace an older treatment, methyl bromide.
Light therapy could save bees from deadly pesticides
Treating bees with light therapy can counteract the harmful effects of neonicotinoid pesticides and improve survival rates of poisoned bees, finds a new UCL study.
The effects of pesticides on soil organisms are complex
There are significant interactions between soil management factors, including pesticide application, with respect to effects on soil organisms.
Pesticides used to help bees may actually harm them
Honeybees from chlorothalanil-treated hives showed the greatest change in gut microbiome.
Research associates some pesticides with respiratory wheeze in farmers
New research from North Carolina State University connects several pesticides commonly used by farmers with both allergic and non-allergic wheeze, which can be a sensitive marker for early airway problems.
Electronic nose smells pesticides and nerve gas
Detecting pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations. An international team of researchers led by Ivo Stassen and Rob Ameloot from KU Leuven, Belgium, have made it possible.
Honeybees pick up 'astonishing' number of pesticides via non-crop plants
A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.
Common pesticides kill amphibian parasites, study finds
A recent study by Jessica Hua, assistant professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and colleagues, explored the effects of six commonly used pesticides on two different populations of a widespread parasite of amphibians.

Related Pesticides Reading:

The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides, 3rd Ed (Pesticide Application Compendium)
by S Whithaus (Author), L Blecker (Author)

The first update to this key reference guide in over 15 years!

This revised edition contains a new format making it even easier to study for the DPR exams. In addition to the review questions found at the end of each chapter, this new edition contains knowledge expectations at the beginning of each chapter. These brief statements describe what you are expected to learn after reading that chapter, allowing you to study more effectively for DPR s pesticide applicator licensing (QAL/QAC) exams. These knowledge expectations are also highlighted in sidebars throughout each chapter, providing a... View Details


Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology
by Frederick Rowe Davis (Author)

Silent Spring catalyzed an environmental movement in the 1960s and achieved a ban on DDT, but are the alternatives any less toxic?

Rachel Carson’s eloquent book Silent Spring stands as one of the most important books of the twentieth century and inspired important and long-lasting changes in environmental science and government policy. Frederick Rowe Davis thoughtfully sets Carson’s study in the context of the twentieth century, reconsiders her achievement, and analyzes its legacy in light of toxic chemical use and regulation today.
 
Davis... View Details


The Myths of Safe Pesticides
by André Leu (Author)

The chemical-based conventional agriculture industry claims that the synthesized concoctions they sell as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are safe when used as directed, but does the scientific evidence truly support their assertions? Organic agriculturist and lecturer André Leu delves into a wealth of respected scientific journals to present the peer-reviewed evidence that proves the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators are not all they seem. Leu translates technical jargon into layman s terms to break down the five most-repeated myths about pesticide safety,... View Details


Pesticide Application Log (Logbook, Journal - 124 pages 6x9 inches): Pesticide Application Logbook (Blue Cover, Medium) (Logbook/Record Books)
by Logbook Professionals (Author)

PERFECT BOUND, GORGEOUS SOFTBACK WITH SPACIOUS RULED PAGES. LOG INTERIOR: Click on the LOOK INSIDE link to view the Log, ensure that you scroll past the Title Page.

Record Page numbers, Subject and Dates.

Customize the Log with columns and headings that would best suit your need.

Thick white acid-free paper reduces the bleed-through of ink.

LOG EXTERIOR COVER: Strong, beautiful paperback.

BINDING: Professional trade paperback binding.

The binding is durable; pages will remain secure and will not break loose.

PAGE DIMENSIONS: 6 x 9 inches)... View Details


PESTICIDES & BIOPESTICIDES: FORMULATION & MODE OF ACTION (THE LABCOAT GUIDE TO CROP PROTECTION)
by Harald B. B. Teicher (Author)

PESTICIDES & BIOPESTICIDES: FORMULATION & MODE OF ACTION is the first book in the LABCOAT GUIDE TO CROP PROTECTION series.

Aimed at students, professionals, and others wishing to learn basic biological aspects of Crop Protection, this book is an easily accessible introduction to essential principles of Pesticide and Biopesticide Mode Of Action and Formulation.

Because the mode of action of a biopesticide typically differs from that of conventional pesticides, the efficacy of the biopesticide must also be assessed differently... View Details


Health Effects of Pesticides
by A K Srivastava (Author), C Kesavachandran (Author)

The need to protect scarce and essential resources from other living things is truly prehistoric, but it is only in the last century that toxic chemicals have come into widespread use. Although pesticides are useful in agricultural sector and in control of vectorborne diseases, they may cause illness and death in humans. People most susceptible to direct contact with pesticides are subjects constantly exposed to pesticides either in the agricultural sector or in the pesticide manufacturing sector. Today, it is almost impossible for anyone to avoid frequent exposure to several different... View Details


Pesticide Drift and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice (Food, Health, and the Environment)
by Jill Lindsey Harrison (Author)

An examination of political conflicts over pesticide drift and the differing conceptions of justice held by industry, regulators, and activists.

The widespread but virtually invisible problem of pesticide drift -- the airborne movement of agricultural pesticides into residential areas -- has fueled grassroots activism from Maine to Hawaii. Pesticide drift accidents have terrified and sickened many living in the country's most marginalized and vulnerable communities. In this book, Jill Lindsey Harrison considers political conflicts over pesticide drift in California, using them... View Details


Pollinator Protection a Bee & Pesticide Handbook
by A. Johansen Carl (Author), F. Mayer Daniel (Author), J. Connor Lawrence (Editor)

A handbook designed for use by beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, county agents, ag consultants, environmentalists, and research scientists and teachers. The book outlines methods of protecting pollinating bee species to ensure adequate crop pollination. Chapters include: History of Bee Poisoning, Bees and their Relatives, Bee Poisoning Symptoms and Signs, Types of Pesticides, Herbicides, Types of Insecticides, Pesticides Used by Beekeepers, Factors Contributing to Bee Poisoning, Mortality Factors Confused with Poisoning, Food Contamination, Other Contaminant Effects, The Science of... View Details


Pesticide Application Log (Logbook, Journal - 96 pages, 5 x 8 inches): Pesticide Application Logbook (Deep Wine Cover, Small) (Unique Logbook/Record Books)
by Unique Logbooks (Author)

PERFECT BOUND, GORGEOUS SOFTBACK WITH SPACIOUS RULED PAGES. LOG INTERIOR: Click on the LOOK INSIDE link to view the Log, ensure that you scroll past the Title Page.

Record Page numbers, Subjects and Dates.

Customize the Log with columns and headings that would best suit your need.

Thick white acid-free paper reduces the bleed-through of ink.

LOG EXTERIOR COVER: Strong, beautiful paperback.

BINDING: Professional trade paperback binding.

The binding is durable; pages will remain secure and will not break loose.

PAGE DIMENSIONS: 5 x 8... View Details


Pesticides, A Love Story: America's Enduring Embrace of Dangerous Chemicals (Culture America (Hardcover))
by Michelle Mart (Author)

“Presto! No More Pests!” proclaimed a 1955 article introducing two new pesticides, "miracle-workers for the housewife and back-yard farmer." Easy to use, effective, and safe: who wouldn’t love synthetic pesticides? Apparently most Americans did—and apparently still do. Why—in the face of dire warnings, rising expense, and declining effectiveness—do we cling to our chemicals? Michelle Mart wondered. Her book, a cultural history of pesticide use in postwar America, offers an answer.

America's embrace of synthetic pesticides began when they burst on the scene during... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Big Five
What are the five biggest global challenges we face right now — and what can we do about them? This hour, TED speakers explore some radical solutions to these enduring problems. Guests include geoengineer Tim Kruger, president of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband, political scientist Ian Bremmer, global data analyst Sarah Menker, and historian Rutger Bregman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#456 Inside a Conservation NGO
This week we take a close look at conservation NGOS: what they do, how they work, and - most importantly - why we need them. We'll be speaking with Shyla Raghav, the Climate Change Lead at Conservation International, about using strategy and policy to tackle climate change. Then we'll speak with Rebecca Shaw, Lead Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, about how and why you should get involved with conservation initiatives.