First bee-applied pesticide approved in the U.S.
On Aug. 28, the EPA approved the first bee-distributed organic pesticide for the U.S. market—a powder branded as “Vectorite” that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called CR-7. The compound is completely harmless to its host plant but acts as a hostile competitor to other fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops such as blueberries, strawberries, almonds and tomatoes.
A Canadian company, Bee Vectoring Technologies, devised the system, which involves placing small trays of CR-7 inside bee hives. The bees walk over the trays while in the hive, and the CR-7 attaches to their bodies. When they fly out to pollinate plants, the bees leave traces of the fungal compound everywhere they go. Both bumblebees and honeybees are capable of spreading Vectorite up to 400 yards from their hive.
Once it’s delivered by the bees, CR-7 quickly embeds itself within the plant, establishing a natural defense system against common diseases such as gray mold, white mold, early potato blight, black rot on citrus and other fungus-based crop problems.
EPA’s published statement on the approval says there is no evidence that CR-7 is unsafe to either humans or the environment and also creates a tolerance exemption, which means there is no requirement to test crops for CR-7 residue on food.
The bee-delivered pesticide is already being marketed for U.S. strawberry and blueberry crops grown in the fall and winter, and the technology is being tested on sunflower crops in the Dakotas.
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