A share of £16 million of government R&D funding for agriculture has been assigned to a novel insecticide – featured in the October 2014 issue of The Vegetable Farmer magazine.
The £1 million project led by Arch UK Biocides Limited and carried out in collaboration with the University of Durham, the Food and Research Agency (FERA) and I2LRESEARCH LTD, will receive over £650,000 Agri-Tech Catalyst funding to further develop an environmentally friendly pesticide which is harmless to non-target species including bees. The new insecticide uses naturally occurring peptides, found in spider venom, to produce an orally effective treatment which can be produced commercially.
These venom peptides, which are harmless to mammals, are fused to a ‘carrier’ protein that can then be applied to crops on a large scale. When treated crops are eaten by pests, such as slugs or beetles, the ‘carrier’ protein transports the spider toxin from the pests gut and into the nervous system; eradicating the threat without impacting on other species.
This latest £16 million in funding is part of the second round of funding to be distributed through the £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst, announced as part of the UK Industrial Strategy for Agricultural Technologies in July 2013.
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley commented, “These exciting catalyst projects all contribute to making the UK a world leader in agricultural science, growing the food and farming sector and improving our environment. The development of a new bee-friendly pesticide is a great example of using science to protect our food production and our rural economy for the future.”