Biocontrols as the Pivot Point in the Push for Sustainable Ag Practices

October 18, 2021 |

By Patrice Sellès, CEO, Biotalys

Special to The Digest

While our global food system is still incredibly dependent on chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers, pest resistance is building in our fields and costs continue to climb thanks to escalating fuel costs and global events like the Chinese phosphate export ban. As supply concerns create massive price spikes, growers’ go-to farming methods are quickly losing a stronghold on the claim as the “easiest, most affordable” agricultural practices. The call for safer, more natural approaches in agriculture and farming continues to grow louder every year, and the current shift in production cost may help turn the tides toward a long-term investment in more sustainable growing practices.

However, while surging energy and raw material costs may become one of the initial tipping points for sustainable agricultural practices, the next ag era will need to go much deeper than simple short-term interest in more cost-effective solutions. Our food value chain – from soil to plate – is broken, and we need widespread, lasting change. A true system-wide shift to sustainable agriculture will not be driven solely by the cost of raw materials.

Instead, the price of agricultural practices and crop protection solutions must evolve to reflect both market demand and their overall environmental impact. Growers need better, effective alternatives to chemical pesticides, while safely maintaining yields and increasing storability to reduce the impact on our ecosystem and environment. A full view of environmental impact, efficacy and costs throughout the value chain will be needed to ascertain which solutions will serve as a foundation for the sustainable ag era. Delivering the “sustainability trifecta” – i.e., a lower emissions footprint, equal or better efficacy rates than conventional crop protection solutions, and overall financial value – the integration of biocontrol solutions into sustainable ag efforts will be the ultimate pivot point.

The next crop of biopesticides – biofungicides, bioinsecticides, biobacteriacides, etc. – will dramatically reduce the reliance on (and growing expense of) fuel-dependent ag practices. Protein-based biocontrols as developed by Biotalys can effectively and selectively target pests and pathogens with new modes of action, offering growers a new, safer way to protect their yields – safeguarding the health of our food, our growers and our environment

Using nature’s own machinery, biocontrols will minimize environmental impact at scale, reliably address devastating crop pests and diseases, and give growers cost-effective options to prevent crop loss in the field and post-harvest. Unlike chemical-based solutions, which are produced using an inefficient multi-step manufacturing process, nature-based biocontrol solutions are less dependent on raw materials from fossil fuels and generally do not require multi-step preparation. Biocontrols can be manufactured through industrial-scale bioprocess and formulated for consistent high performance; they can also be readily biodegradable – reducing residue concerns, as well as the impact on our soils, biodiversity and our environment as a whole.

Specifically, Biotalys’s targeted and automated approach during the discovery and development phase, as well as a straightforward regulatory pathway, enable the development of novel biocontrols an estimated three years faster and at a significantly lower cost than chemical active ingredients. Combining the high-performance characteristics and consistency of chemicals with the clean safety profile of biologicals, Biotalys has a broad pipeline of effective and safe candidate products to address key crop pests and diseases.

While the shift won’t happen overnight and the transition to more sustainable, regenerative agriculture practices will certainly come with new challenges, the cost of inaction would be detrimental. Farmers and growers need our support – as an industry, as consumers, as policy makers and investors, and most of all as stewards of our planet. Now is the time to layer in nature-based technologies to decrease agriculture’s impact on the environment while improving yield and return for growers.




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Category: Thought Leadership, Top Stories

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