Edison Investment Research, the London-based investment research and advisory company, is pleased to release Feeding the World: Biological Products for Sustainable Crop Protection, a research report that details the rising demand for alternatives to broad-spectrum conventional pesticides.
The paper presents exciting advances in biological pesticide technologies—such as RNA interference-based biopesticides—and discusses the growing investment interest in environmentally friendly crop protection products that support sustainable agriculture.
The shift away from conventional crop protection products has already started, propelled by consumer and government concerns about food safety and the environment that are translating into regulatory action against some conventional pesticides.
Also spurring development is the fact that the efficacy of conventional pesticide products declines as pests develop resistance to them. Consequently, the global agricultural market for innovative biological crop protection is expected to grow rapidly at a CAGR of 14.5% by 2025.
The report includes a discussion of companies such as Bayer (BAYN: DE), GreenLight Biosciences (GRNA: US), Monsanto (acquired by Bayer in 2018), Renaissance BioScience, Syngenta, and others that are working on environmentally friendly innovations in the rapid-growth area of biological crop protection and biopesticides.
Anne Margaret Crow, Director TMT/Industrials, Edison:
"The United Nations’ second sustainable development goal is to eliminate hunger globally and improve agricultural yields through the continued application of sustainable crop protection products will be key to achieving this goal."Recent years have seen the enactment of legislation designed to reduce the use of certain conventional pesticides believed to have a detrimental environmental impact—among others, restrictions are targeted at glyphosate and neonicotinoid pesticides. These legislative changes are leading farmers to seek out alternatives that will protect their crops and improve yields.
"The innovations in environmentally friendly biopesticides outlined in this report are extremely promising in terms of meeting societal goals for sustainable crop protection while also making a contribution to expanding agricultural production to feed a growing world. Biological crop protection appears to be a significant leap forward for agriculture."
Adding to the challenge, most of the primary pest species affecting major global crops have developed resistance to many of the available pesticides, with the top culprits exhibiting resistance to nearly 100 different products. As a result, farmers often must apply more pesticides to achieve the same effect with subsequent detrimental effects on other organisms.
Biological crop protection represents an invaluable environmentally friendly way for farmers to overcome the resistance issue by adopting methodologies that apply different products to successive generations of pests in order to prevent them from evolving resistance to any one particular biopesticide.
RNA interference and other innovative crop protection biopesticide technologies
As has been highlighted with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, RNA technologies have exciting potential. RNA interference (RNAi), which turns off specifically targeted genes in agricultural pests, holds substantial promise given that RNAi-based biopesticides can target a number of different genes in a pest to effectively curtail resistance-building over time.
In addition, since these are specifically targeted and also degrade in the environment over a predetermined time, they potentially address consumer and government concerns about the impacts of traditional chemical pesticides.
Other technologies discussed in the report include triggering the natural defensive mechanisms of plants and mimicking pest deterrents produced by the plant’s own fungicides such as terpenes produced naturally by plants.