Common herbs and spices show promise as an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional pesticides, scientists have told a major US conference.
They have spent a decade researching the insecticidal properties of rosemary, thyme, clove and mint.
They could become a key weapon against insect pests in organic agriculture, the researchers say, as the industry attempts to satisfy demand.
The “plant essential oils” have a broad range of action against bugs.
Some kill them outright while others repel them.
Details were presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington DC.
These new pesticides are generally a mixture of tiny amounts of two to four different herbs diluted in water.
The research was led by Dr Murray Isman, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
Some spice-based commercial products now being used by farmers have already shown success in protecting organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops against destructive aphids and mites, Dr Isman explained.
“These products expand the limited arsenal of organic growers to combat pests,” he said.
“They’re still only a small piece of the insecticide market, but they’re growing and gaining momentum.”
Unlike conventional pesticides, these “killer spices” do not require more limited approval from regulatory bodies and are readily available.
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