Novozymes launches bioinsecticide in North America
Met52 is based on sterile rice and contains Metarhizium anisopliae, a naturally occurring fungus that efficiently kills a range of insects that threaten professional greenhouses and nurseries. It protects against black vine weevil and strawberry root weevil larvae, thrip adults and larvae, mites, gnats, grubs and white flies, according to Sanford Gleddie, global marketing manager for Novozymes Biologicals BioAg Group. "We've been working and researching with this particular fungus for coming on 10 years now," he said. The product was launched in Europe in 2007 and, upon completion of field trials, can now be registered for commercial, nonfood use in North America for ornamentals, shrubs, and forest and shade tree seedlings, among others. The registration process in the U.S., similar to that of chemical insecticides, includes state and U.S. EPA approval. The market expansion is not spurred by demand for biocontrol, Gleddie said, but by product development.
The active ingredient in Met52 is the fungal spores. When mixed into potting soil, it grows rapidly and infects the harmful insects, killing the larvae in three to five days, according to Gleddie. "It's a good bug controlling a bad bug," he said. "We're manufacturing and applying a high level of these spores where they're needed."
The fungus is potent and has the added advantage of resistance management. "It has a broad mode of action," Gleddie said. "It's not very specific to one metabolic pathway." When chemicals with specific modes of action are used consistently, any insects that are not susceptible to them will quickly multiply. While Met52 is more effective on some insects than others, it has been tested on a wide range of bugs and Novozymes is working to further expand its abilities.
Novozymes is also working to develop a spray formula of Met52, along with a registration for use on food crops. "There's a really good fit for this biocontrol on those types of crops," Gleddie said.