The science, art and business of successful bioherbicides.

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In this article, the critical issues in the production of successful bioherbicides have been defined in an effort to stimulate discussion on the underlying science, art of formulation and fermentation and the business of producing and marketing of bioherbicides. To a large extent the science of bioherbicides has focussed on epidemiology, although the enormous potential of molecular technology to improve the efficacy of these agents is being investigated. Some of this potential is coming to fruition in terms of development of tools for the identification and tracking of biological controls, although the genetic modification of biological control agents is still in its infancy. On the other hand, knowledge in the areas of formulation and fermentation is often proprietary in nature. This makes it critical for researchers to work in collaboration with other researchers or industry in these areas. The importance of the appropriate involvement of industry and commercialization partners early in the development process should not be underestimated. Although ad hoc research into biological control should not be discouraged, researchers should be encouraged to think carefully before they postulate on the potential of a bioherbicide based purely on preliminary isolation and pathogenicity testing. As much of the research is specific to a single pathogen/host system, the way ahead in bioherbicide research would appear to be the development of consortia or research nodes in which scientists and business people with backgrounds in the discovery, development and commercialization of biopesticides work collaboratively on a number of projects.There has been movement towards this type of model in countries such as Canada, USA and New Zealand although other countries lag behind. Interestingly, all five of the recently registered bioherbicides in the U. S. and Canada were developed and registered by small-business enterprises or a subsidiary of enterprises with no prior record in pesticide development.The constraints to bioherbicides are not in the science, art or business: it is in bringing all of these aspects together in an accessible way and the sharing of intellectual property in an equitable fashion. A new model for the commercialization of bioherbicides should build on currently established research networks, but need to have a stronger link to industry (especially small-medium enterprises) and requires funding for infrastructure and personnel. This funding needs to come from the public sector. Industry is interested in engaging this type of research, but they need to be reassured that the approach is feasible, economic and realistic and that the resources required are available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-240
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Control
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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