The need

Between 20% and 40% of potential food production is still lost every year to insect pests. That’s despite the fact that more than US$11 billion is spent annually on pesticides.

Losses occur while the crop is growing in the field, when it is in storage and in the home. Caterpillars and maggots feed directly on leaves and fruits while sucking pests like aphids also spread diseases. A growing world population is leading to increased demand for food, putting more pressure on producers to grow crops more efficiently and sustainably without compromising standards of safety.

Many growers around the world are adopting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to produce food in a sustainable manner. IPM combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with minimal risk to health and the environment.

The Oxitec approach to insect pest control improves upon the widely used Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and is ideal for use in IPM because of its species-specificity and low environmental impact.

Insect predators are also left in the field to provide natural pest control and use of insecticides is reduced or eliminated.

SIT is used around the world on a number of agricultural pests. These include tephritid fruit flies and the cotton pest pink bollworm. Oxitec’s new technology makes SIT more affordable, even safer, and applicable to a wider range of crops and pests.