Limiting Factors and Threats

3.1.1 Political Factors

As long as conventional pesticides are cheaper than microbial disease management products, they will continue to dominate the market for pesticides. Pimentel (2005) reported on the major hidden environmental and economic costs of the application of synthetic pesticides. Biopesticides do not cause these costs and this should be part of the equation when a new policy for crop protection is designed. Menzler-Hokkanen (2006) argued that a mechanism for price support in favour of biological control should be installed because of the socio-economic benefits associated with the replacement of chemicals by biocontrol to the society. This good idea should be considered by policy-makers.

The establishment of an agreement on Access Benefit Sharing regarding genetic resources could impede collection of new BCAs and form a threat to biocontrol (Cock et al. 2009). Policy-makers should enable research and industry to continue with the development of sustainable pest management methods by providing a practical and workable framework.

3.1.2 Societal and Market-Related Trends

The broad use of biocontrol with natural enemies and microorganisms may include a risk since any insect or "germ" on food is perceived as highly undesirable by the public. Good communication will be necessary to avoid such a "food-scare" or a negative association of "man playing with nature" (Ritson and Kuznesof 2006).

Biopesticides need to break away from the single-technology approach of chemical pesticides and be implemented as key components of an IPM system. They should not be used in the same conceptual model as chemicals, and they should not be expected to out compete chemicals. Growers also need to change their use patterns in crop protection and think more about truly integrated approaches. The grower's difficulty in adoption of biological alternatives is the increased knowledge to make it function as well as the costs. This is part of a larger problem of declining returns in agriculture. Growers need to receive better returns for their product if they are going to spend more capital on their inputs such as more biological and natural solutions for their pest and disease problems. If the consumer wants sustainable agriculture and safe food, he will have to be willing to pay more for his food.

3.1.3 Research Needs

Continued research efforts are required for a deeper understanding of the mode of action, ecological constraints and requirements, and other fundamental aspects of entomopathogens. More applied research is also needed on application methods, formulation and shelf-life, on interactions in the field, and combined uses of micro-bials. Although Bt's are the most successful bioinsecticides, the market still asks for "faster killing", "higher efficacy against mid-late instars", "longer field life", and "rain-fastness tolerant" Bt products (Georgis and Warrior 2007). Better and more competitive biopesticides could be developed with more in-depth knowledge of entomopathogens. More funds are required for this kind of research.

Institutional scientists need to better understand registration requirements, and help industry with registration since in many areas they are the only experts. They have a role to play to provide regulators with sufficient relevant biological data to allow them to install a more relaxed regulation. An example is the paper of Scheepmaker and Butt (2010) which demonstrated that entomopathogenic fungi all decline to natural background levels after application and therefore do not pose a threat to the environment. Funding agencies should support this kind of work more.

The assumption that the small biocontrol companies can support the bulk of the research is unrealistic as most have limited budgets. Collaboration between public and private sector needs to be stimulated. Institutions, however, increasingly require support from the private sector. Instead, more governmental support is needed for both public and private organizations to develop these products. The political responsibility is to further the development of biopesticides if society desires a reduction of the use of chemical pesticides.

3.1.4 Regulatory Issue

Although regulatory innovation is taking place, its pace is much too slow. Governments need to give higher priority to a faster and wider adoption of biopesticides and other alternatives to accomplish economic and environmental sus-tainability of modern agriculture. Targeted active stimulation is required to achieve successful uptake of biological pesticides in the market. The needs for the realization of the envisioned crop protection has been assessed for the EU, and the outcome indicated the necessity for more research, more extension, and for harmonization in regulations to mitigate the current barriers for adoption of alternatives. An interesting recommendation is the "co-funding of the purchase of consultancy advice" (Chandler et al. 2008b). These proposals need to be transferred into concrete measures.

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