New natural pesticide…

20 per cent more efficient – new natural pesticide boosts profits and delivers higher kill rates

Bigger profits and better kill rates, that’s the promise of a new UK biopesticide which successfully completed field trials earlier this year – with 20 per cent more efficiency than its nearest rivals.
NemaTrident® CT is the first product to market for the UK’s Bionema, a spin out business from Swansea which is developing a new range of biopesticides products based on 20 years of scientific research. It goes on sale in March 2017 for vine weevil control in soft fruit and ornamentals and pine weevil in forestry.

Targeted at vine and pine weevil, the initial part of the trial programme was carried out in the forests of Wales, where the cold tolerant biocontrol agent, effective down to 8ºC, which uses naturally occurring insect parasitic nematodes (Heterorhabditis downesi) as its base, outperformed the market leader.

Later in the year it was tested against vine weevil in soil grown strawberry near farm in Herefordshire, where again it outperformed all of its major rivals – with a kill rate of 100 percent. This trial was ‘moderated’ by growers, agronomists, distributions and manufactures themselves, who took part in the final vine weevil trial assessment on the farm.

“The key to the success of NemaTrident® CT is the cocktail of ingredients we have used which, acting together, have radically altered performance,” said Bionema CEO Dr Minshad Ansari, speaking in AAB Conference: Advances in IPM 2016 in November this year.

Vine weevil, has been targeted first, a serious pest of soft fruits, it causes £40m damage to the UK horticulture industry yearly and £5 billion worldwide, and recent ban of the widely used insecticide Chlorpyrifos, also known by the trademark Equity exacerbates the problem.

“Our team assessed 17 of the best performing bio-control products and as the results were unearthed, at Pennoxstone farm, Hereford, more than 35 key potential buyers saw just how effective this ‘new’ method of environment friendly pest control can be,” said Dr Ansari.

The active ingredient in NemaTrident® CTis a cold tolerant,naturally occurring insect parasitic nematode (Heterorhabditis downesi) for control of black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) in ornamentals and soft fruit crops, large pine weevil (Hylobiusabietis),citrus longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis) and spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in forest. A wetting agent is also used for better performance

“In truth there were no losers. What we conclusively proved is that biocontrol is staggeringly successful and, as pests become resistant to commercial pesticides, makes even more sense now for today’s farmers and horticulturalists,” said Bionema managing director Dr Minshad Ansari.

All the commercially available nematode tested provided up to 60 per cent vine weevil control in the strawberry trial, with 20 per cent higher kill rates when applied using a wetting agent

Biopesticide Registration | Difficulties and Challenges within the Industry

Biopesticides are becoming more and more a major part of our daily lives, but they’re not necessarily getting easier or cheaper to register. In fact, most people don’t realize that it takes an average of 5-10 years and £3-5 million in the EU compare to $300-400k registration and regulatory fee in the US.

So, how hard is it to obtain biopesticide registration for your new product?

SMEs are struggling to register biocontrol products due to an expensive and overly complex regulatory process. This guide offers the necessary insights for bringing your products to market, navigating the regulatory system with minimal fuss and expense.

Regulatory bodies

Before any pesticide can be used, sold, supplied, advertised, or stored anywhere in the world, it must be approved for use by the regulatory authorities in that country.

Applicants must provide evidence that their plant protection products (PPPs) are safe and effective before an approval can be issued. This includes biopesticides.

The term “biopesticide” refers to a broad range of possible PPPs. However, for the purposes of most regulatory authorities’ systems, these are classified into four categories:

In the EU, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the agency responsible for reviewing and approving new biopesticides, while in the UK. Approvals are granted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and in the USA the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for new approvals.

In these and other countries, approvals are subject to a range of specific pesticide-related legislations.

Regulation and legal background

The majority of pesticides are used as PPPs (Plant Protection Products). These products protect plants or crops from pests or plant diseases, and they are classified by the organism they are supposed to protect plants from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, bactericides, nematicides and others.

In the EU (European Union), Regulation (EU) 1107/2009 sets the requirements for the authorization of PPPs. The EC (European Commission) assesses the active substance for human health and environmental safety.

When pesticides are sprayed according to Good Agricultural Practice, the MRL (Maximum Residue Level) will be set in line with Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 for food and feed.

Following the approval, the PPPs are authorised in each of the EU member states. The EC, EFSA, and ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) are the EU’s accountable authorities (European Chemicals Agency).

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is responsible for regulating pesticides in the United States under the FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) and the FQPA (Federal Quality Pesticide Act) (Food Quality Protection Act).

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) set rules for the amount of pesticide residue that can be present in crops.

Alternatively, in the UK we have the Environment Agency and the HSE who regulate pesticide registration.

A key difference between requirements for the US EPA, compared with the EFSA and HSE in the EU and UK, is that the US EPA recognises that biopesticides are natural products, that they act differently to conventional chemical pesticides, and therefore the data required for registration of biopesticides in the US is markedly different to the data required for chemical pesticides.

Unfortunately, the EU and UK are still lagging behind in understanding the difference between chemical pesticides and biopesticides, and they treat both types of products very similarly – even though one is a chemical product and the other is biological.

This makes the current EU and UK regulatory processes for new biopesticides overly complex, frequently requesting unnecessary or unsuitable data and adding unnecessary expense to the registration procedure.

Numerous efforts are already ongoing to address this issue. For example, the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association has been struggling to gain traction in the EU for the past 25 years.

Much more recently, post-Brexit, the World Bioprotection Forum (WBF) has initiated its own campaign for change in the UK. It is hoped that the WBF will achieve change in the UK within the next couple of years and that this success will make a significant contribution to IBMA’s ongoing calls for change in the EU.

Some of the US and UK laws that govern pesticides

In order to navigate the regulations in any country or region, the first thing you need is a good lawyer who knows their way around the relevant regulations. They will save you both time and frustration in achieving your goals and getting your product registered as quickly as possible.

Here is a list of the various laws that apply in the US and UK – as you can see, there is considerable complexity in the current system!

The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland –

The United States –

European Union and other laws –

  • Regulation (EC) 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs
  • Regulation (EC) 183/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of feed
  • Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2004
  • Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 (CHIP)
  • Clean Air Act 1993
  • Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora 92/43/EEC (‘Habitats Directive’)
  • Environment Act 1995
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991
  • Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005

As you can see by the sheer number of laws applicable, and how they are applied, it becomes is simply common sense to have legal representation to you in drawing up your application for biopesticide registration.

Likewise, talking to other companies who have been through the process several times for their own products, can give you important insights into the process and real-world experience.

If you would like to talk to one of our experts at Bionema, please reach out and we would be very pleased to educate you on the pitfalls and challenges you are likely to face in trying to get your product to market.

Checklist of requirements

If you are new to the registration process, here’s a helpful list of data requirements for all PPPs and their specific categories:         

  • All biopesticides must have an active ingredient.
  • You must provide adequate directions on how to use the new product, as well as safety information (including in case of incorrect or excessive use; (examples include weed killer restrictions).
  • Chemistry: including technical specification of the active ingredient(s), physical/chemical properties and storage stability
  • Mammalian toxicology: toxicity to humans, product classification
  • Residues: trial data for use on edible crops
  • Operator and bystander protection: evidence that the product is safe to use
  • Ecotoxicology: effect of the active/product on the environment and non-target organisms
  • Fate and behaviour: effect of the environment on the active ingredient; breakdown products; does it persist?
  • Efficacy and crop safety trials: proof of a consistent level of control/effect.

What is included in the application?

Once you are ready and your legal representative has approved your dossier for submission, It can be included in one of three categories:

  • Register a new pesticide active ingredient
  • Register a new product for an existing pesticide
  • Register to add a new use to an existing product.

Typical applications also require the following additional items:

  • Service fee(s) required by the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA)
  • Forms describing the requested action
  • The identity and quantity of all chemicals in the product
  • Data on potential risks to human health and the environment, including about the potential for pesticide residues on food (if applicable)
  • Proof that the product manufacturing process is reliable
  • Labelling, including directions for use, contents, and appropriate warnings
  • Evidence of meeting all legal and financial obligations.

Reach out for help and advice

In conclusion, the time and effort you invest at the beginning, by doing your due diligence and speaking with a range of professional bodies and industry partners, can ensure you minimise your time and money spent on the registration of your new biopesticide.

At Bionema, we understand that the regulatory process of the system can seem complicated and confusing. Please feel free to call us to discuss your requirements and how best we can orientate you through this process.

Likewise, in the UK, you can also reach out to the HSE – the Health and Safety Executive will guide you if you are at the early stages of product development to ensure any work carried out can be considered in the light of regulatory requirements. This will ensure the most cost-effective way to gain approval in the UK.

Professional Bodies to contact to support you:

This kind of peace of mind is invaluable to securing your registration and not overlooking issues that will haunt you further on in your project.

Bionema, UK –  or call +44 (0)1792 606916

The environmental challenges arising from chemical pesticide over-use

During the 20th century, a focus on feeding our rapidly expanding global population led farmers across the world to adopt aggressive agricultural practices – heavy machinery, monocultures and increasing volumes of chemical pesticides.

However, as these practices moved further and further away from nature, there were inevitable consequences on our soils, our air and our water supplies.

The environmental challenges arising from the over-use of chemical pesticides, in particular, have widespread implications that must be realised and addressed.

Contents  hide 
1 Our increasing dependency on pesticides
2 What is the impact of pesticides on the environment?
3 How can we reduce the impact of pesticides on the environment?
4 The solution lies in nature itself
5 In conclusion

Our increasing dependency on pesticides

Since the middle of the 20th century, our use of chemical pesticides has grown steadily. Now, it is estimated that more than 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops every year.

It is easy to see how we have come to this situation – from 1950 to 2010, the world population increased from 2.5 billion to 6.9 billion, or by 174%. Even at the most basic level, that would mean a 174% increase in food production, with related pressures on crop yields.

Added to this, modern consumers demand ‘blemish-free fruit and vegetables, putting even more pressure on growers to eliminate pests and diseases, and average meat consumption has also increased, crop yields have needed to grow disproportionately to feed livestock.

These pressures have driven growers to apply more and more pesticides and chemicals, in a constant quest for greater yields, ‘clean’ produce, and a never-ending battle with nature as they fight pests and diseases that would undermine those efforts.

However, as well as adding toxins into our own food chains, the huge volumes of chemicals applied to our fields has led to problems for natural habitats and ecosystems.

What is the impact of pesticides on the environment?

The problem with chemical pesticides is that they eventually end up polluting the environment. Residues in our soils gradually leach through the ground to contaminate groundwater sources and waterways, while eroding soil quality (as microorganisms and earthworms vital to soil health are killed), air quality (affecting plant life) and wildlife populations.

Pesticides are designed to kill pests that would damage crops, spread disease or infect livestock. Yet they are also toxic to other living things, including non-target insects such as bees, earthworms and other beneficial soil microbes, birds, fish, mammals and humans.

In other words, chemical pesticides are frequently non-selective in their targets, and their application often risks harm to non-target organisms in our soils, air and waters. 

Pollinators are the most frequently-cited example of the non-selective harm done by pesticides, but there are many others, often interrupting natural cycles of life, and exacerbating the root problems. When pesticides are applied to land or water for mosquito control, their impact reaches far beyond the target organism – often killing beneficial insects like dragonflies which eat mosquitoes and help keep other insect populations under control.

The most common type, organophosphates or OP, are neurotoxins. These pesticides have been shown to kill many species of animals, including birds, fish and amphibians. Not only do they affect the environment where they’re sprayed but also pollute our groundwater supply too.

In the past two decades, OP has emerged as a widespread contaminant in soil and water supplies, posing a significant toxicological threat to aquatic ecosystems, soil and human health

How can we reduce the impact of pesticides on the environment?

It is important to remember that not all pesticides are harmful. In fact, some pesticides help reduce the need for more toxic chemicals and can be used safely by informed individuals. However, the toxic effects of a growing number of chemical pesticides, on humans and the environment, are leading an increasing number of countries to ban these chemicals.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has a searchable map that shows which states have banned the use of pesticides on lawns, gardens, childcare play areas, school grounds, golf courses/country clubs, parks and campgrounds. States with pesticide bans are shown in green and state lacking any ban or regulation are in yellow. [URL link to this]

Countries like Australia have implemented a ban on certain pesticides, but this solution has led to the overuse of others.

Therefore, it is not enough to simply ban chemical pesticides – other strategies must be employed, allow the adequate control of crop pests and diseases in a manner that does not challenge the environment, and allows us to protect our planet as well as our crops.

The solution lies in nature itself

If we take time to understand the natural cycles and relationships in agriculture, we can harness that nature to help control pests and diseases, without the intervention of toxic chemicals.

At its most simple crop rotation and mixing plant species can limit pests and prevent an infestation by removing host plants from areas in which pests and disease organism populations have grown.

By rotating crops over a period long enough to deprive those populations of food, long enough for them to die out, those pests and diseases can be controlled with no additional interventions at all.

Another strategy is to grow disease-resistant plants; breeders can utilize genetic technology to grow plants that are able to produce their own pesticides (but this also has its limitations as some pesticides like those made by wasps cannot be reproduced in such ways).

Other alternative methods harness the natural relationships between predators and prey. For example, introducing certain kinds of wasps can control pest infestations without harming other organisms or nearby wildlife. This is a traditional example of what we now refer to as ‘biopesticides’.

‘Biopesticides’ present a return to nature and the utilization of macroorganisms, microorganisms, natural plant chemicals and other biochemicals that can be used to kill or affect the physiology of crop pests and diseases. As they harness natural inter-organisms relationships, these solutions are usually highly selective for the target organism, providing effective control without affecting other beneficial insects or microbes.

Their natural origin also means that they biodegrade after use, replenishing the soil rather than polluting it. For more information about biopesticides, 

In conclusion

The use of pesticides may be in some cases, but we must be aware of any potential impact on the environment, and do all we can to limit those effects by making sure that they are used responsibly by farmers and manufacturers alike.

The use of chemical pesticides can be reduced – and sometimes avoided altogether – by the implementation of more sustainable solutions that are founded in nature and do not present the same toxic challenges caused by the over-use of chemical pesticides.

Bionema can help identify natural pest control solutions for horticulture, forestry, turf and amenity, and public health.

Our innovative solutions can help to reduce chemical pesticide use and protect the environment while controlling pests and diseases effectively at the same time.

Get in touch with us to discuss the solutions that would work for you.

Biopesticides – Biological Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides: The Natural Way

Throughout the 20th century, the use of chemical pesticides was widely adopted in agriculture to control insect pests, weeds, and plant diseases. However, many of these pesticides are now known to be harmful to human health and the environment, leading numerous countries to ban large numbers of these products from being used.

This poses the question – how will farmers protect their crops if these products are banned?

In fact, a range of solutions already exists, in the form of biological alternatives. Also known as biopesticides.

Contents  hide 
1 What are biopesticides?
2 Classes of biopesticides
3 How biopesticides work
4 Advantages of using biopesticides
5 A highly targeted approach to crop protection
6 Why haven’t biopesticides replaced conventional pesticides?
7 In conclusion

An important distinction between conventional chemical pesticides and biological alternatives is the fact that, while you might think of pesticides as something that kills pest insects, some biopesticides aim to control – rather than obliterate – them. This gentler approach provides a more targeted approach that does not affect beneficial insects and is harmless to the surrounding environment.

This guide will teach you how biological alternatives use nature itself against insect pests to provide effective control, instead of spraying our crops with toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to humans and animals alike.

What are biopesticides?

The term “biopesticide” was coined in the 1980s and refers to natural, biological substances used for pest control. The past few decades have seen various academic debates about the definition of a ‘natural’ pesticide, but more recently the sector has started to consider definitions based upon their effects, rather than their origin or makeup.

In summary, a true biopesticide must have one or both of these characteristics:

  1. A pesticidal effect caused by a naturally occurring substance or its synthetic equivalent, which is derived from a plant or animal source (or mined);
  2. A pesticidal effect induced through biological means — for example, by using a microbial pesticide to target an insect pest’s gut bacteria.

Classes of biopesticides

There are four types of biopesticides:

  1. Microbial pesticides contain an active element which is a microbe (bacteria, fungus, virus or protozoan). Although each active ingredient is somewhat particular for its target pest[s], microbial pesticides can control a wide range of pests. There are fungi that control weeds, and other fungi that kill specific insects or diseases, for example.

Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, subspecies and strains are the most frequently used microbial insecticides. Each strain of this bacterium creates a unique combination of proteins that kills only one or a few closely related insect larvae. While some Bt compounds are effective against moth larvae on plants, others are only effective against flies and mosquito larvae. The target insect species are chosen by whether or not the Bt generates a protein that binds to a larval gut receptor, causing the larvae to starve.

  • Macrobials contains invertebrate biocontrol agents such as ladybirds, dragonflies and insect-parasite nematodes
  • Biochemical pesticides are naturally occurring compounds that use non-toxic ways to control pests. (Conventional insecticides, on the other hand, are usually synthetic compounds that kill or inactivate the bug directly.) Biochemical pesticides include insect sex pheromones and other scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps or interfere with mating1.
  • Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs) are pesticidal chemicals produced by plants from genetic material introduced into the plant. Scientists can, for example, extract the gene for the Bt pesticidal protein and insert it into the plant’s genetic code. The plant then produces the chemical that kills the bug instead of the Bt bacteria. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the protein and its genetic material, but not the plant itself.

How biopesticides work

Biopesticides can have one (or more) of the following modes of action:

  • Kill on contact
  • Kill after ingestion
  • Repel
  • Inhibit feeding
  • Inhibit growth
  • Inhibit reproduction.

Advantages of using biopesticides

In general, biopesticides are less hazardous than conventional pesticides. In contrast to broad-spectrum, conventional chemical pesticides, which can harm creatures as diverse as birds, insects, and mammals, biopesticides usually affect only the target pest.

Biopesticides are frequently effective in small amounts, and they disintegrate quickly, resulting in smaller exposures and avoiding the pollution problems that conventional pesticides produce.

Biopesticides, when utilised as a part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes, can significantly reduce the usage of conventional pesticides while maintaining good crop yields.

However, in order to utilise biopesticides successfully (and safely), users must have a thorough understanding of pest management and must strictly adhere to all label instructions.

A highly targeted approach to crop protection

Selectivity is one of the most significant differences between bioactive crop protection agents and conventional agrochemicals. Traditional agrochemicals are often broad-spectrum agents that affect a wide range of species. These products help farmers to control multiple pests with a single pesticide, but they can also affect non-harmful species in the ecosystem, pollute waters and soils, and damage human health.

Biopesticides are usually quite selective in their target pests. They are often believed to be more environmentally friendly than synthetic agrochemicals since they are so targeted. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), for example, is a bacterium often employed as a microbial pesticide that comes in a variety of strains and subspecies, each of which kills a single insect or a few closely related insect species. Each Bt strain produces a protein that is highly specific to the target insect species and non-toxic to other organisms (including humans and animals).

Why haven’t biopesticides replaced conventional pesticides?

When biopesticides were first available in the 1980s, farmers tried to use them like conventional agrochemicals. However, in order to work properly, many biopesticides need to be applied at certain temperatures or require particular attention to tank mixing. Above all, because biopesticides are so selective to target pests, the right product must be chosen to control those pests.

Unfortunately, misapplication of early biopesticides meant that they did not work as well as they could. Growers need the training to utilise biopesticides efficiently and to use different treatments to control different types of pests and pathogens because they are highly targeted. When used correctly, biopesticides can be least (sometimes more!) effective as conventional agrochemicals.

Biopesticides also face issues such as preserving microbial viability during storage, and compatibility with chemical pesticides. Advances in the formulation are prolonging the shelf life of blended products and improving their compatibility. In addition, advancements in delivery are opening up new avenues for biopesticide application.

Finally, although numerous biological products are already available, many more are still in development and until they are ready to reach the market there are some pests for which no biological options are yet available. In those circumstances, for which a natural alternative is not yet on the market, a synthetic agrochemical is often the sole option.

In conclusion

Bionema is working to provide farmers with new and more effective biopesticides. For more information on Bionema’s biopesticides range of products, formulation and world-class delivery system for horticulture, sports turf, forestry, and public health please reach out to us.

1Because determining whether a compound fits the criteria for categorization as a biochemical pesticide can be complex, the EPA has formed a special committee to make such determinations.

EU Biopesticide regulation: Can technology developers survive?

The high cost and lengthy requirements for EU registration are severely limiting the development and commercialisation of BioProtection solutions in Europe – this needs to be addressed urgently.

BioProtection (known as biopesticide) solutions present one of the fastest growing sectors in crop protection and pest control, but their development and uptake are being delayed and obstructed in the EU by irrelevant regulations that are preventing them from reaching the market. There is an urgent need for a review of European regulatory requirements for BioProtection solutions, to ensure that end-users in the EU have access to these products and to allow developers and manufacturers in the EU to compete fairly with their counterparts in other parts of the world.

For centuries, chemical pesticides have been used to control crop pests. Currently, US$70 billion is spent on chemical pesticides annually (MarketsAndMarkets research report, 2020), in efforts to control crop pests that cause $470 bn of damage worldwide (T.W. Culliney, 2014). However, due to indiscriminate use of these toxic chemicals, more than 500 species of insects, mites and spiders have developed some level of pesticide resistance. Already in the EU, almost all of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) international ‘dirty dozen’ pesticides (actually covering 17 different pesticide groups) have now been banned, with the notable exception of the highly hazardous herbicide paraquat, due to their negative impact on human health and the environment. Alternative BioProtection solutions, which harness natural enemies of pests and diseases, offer a cleaner, effective way to fill the gap in the market.

BioProtection Market

BioProtection solutions comprise natural materials derived from animals, plants, and bacteria, as well as certain minerals, that are used for pest control. Almost 50% of the microbial BioProtection solutions currently available on the market are derived from only one entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis or ‘Bt’.  BioProtection solutions comprise a small share of the total crop protection market globally, with a value of about $4.3 bn worldwide, but this share is growing at an estimated 14.7% CGAR and it is expected to reach $8.5 bn by 2025 (MarketsAndMarkets, 2020).

The growth of this sector is important, as the world’s future demands ever-increasing food production to feed an expanding world population, while regulators across the globe are banning toxic chemicals that leave gaps in our ability to control various crop pests.

BioProtection solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years and are considered safer than conventional pesticides. BioProtection products are by their nature less detrimental and are more specific to the target pests. Additionally, these solutions are effective in small amounts and decompose quickly without leaving residues. Therefore, they could reduce the use of toxic chemical pesticides, as an essential part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Regulations of BioProtection

BioProtection products are assessed in the EU by the same regulations used for the assessment of chemical active substances. However, solutions that contain living micro-organisms (such as bacteria, fungi or viruses) are not chemicals – they are biological products that are subject to a range of different requirements and concerns. For example, rather than requiring levels of environmental toxicity – when no chemical toxicity exists – regulators could instead focus on the natural features of the micro-organisms involved, and possibly even their potential to harm to beneficial insects rather than their positive effect on crop pests and diseases (however, it must be noted that harm to beneficial insects is usually minimal, as nature is generally target-specific in order to maintain its natural balance).

Currently, there are fewer BioProtection active substances registered in the EU than in the United States (US), India, Brazil, or China. In the US market, where the biological advantage of these solutions has been more formally recognised, more than 200 BioProtection products are already available, compared to 60 products in the EU market. The relatively low number of registered BioProtection products in the EU is related to the greater complexity of EU-based BioProtection regulations.

Biocontrol products generally have little or no effect on human health, non-target organisms and the environment. However, the registration of BioProtection products continues to be a lengthy process. Since 2009, active substances and products for use in agriculture have been evaluated in accordance with Regulation 1107/2009. The data requirements are the same for active substances and chemical and microbial products, which often cause obstacles when registering BioProtection products. Some data requirements that can be easily met for synthetic chemicals cannot be met for microbial products and for technical reasons. This takes much longer than US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration. Moreover, the high cost ($5-10 million) related to the single registration of new agents is another aspect limiting the commercialisation of new products.

Experience of SMEs

The BioProtection sector is dominated by micro SMEs, many of which were initiated by academics/scientists with ground-breaking ideas. However, those ideas will never come to fruition if the innovations inspired by these brilliant entrepreneurs continue to be obstructed by costly, over-complicated, unnecessary regulations.

If new products could reach the market more quickly, they would generate income that would enable these micro businesses to survive. Faster procedures and enforcement of time limits are important. It cannot be denied that the EU registration process of BioProtection products impedes the commercialisation of these products.

The biocontrol sector is unique in that it comprises many small enterprises and start-ups alongside the giants of the AgriTech industry. Dr Minshad Ansari, Founder and CEO of Bionema said:

The regulatory authorities should try to ensure fast-track registration of BioProtection products based on justified regulations, promoting the adoption of safer technologies in the development of commercial products. Additionally, the regulatory system should enable small-medium enterprises dealing with BioProtection to develop, so that they can provide growers with reliable tools for the economical control of pests and allow them to supply products that meet the expectations of consumers.


BioProtection products have long been attracting global attention as a safer approach than chemical pest control practices, with potentially less risk to humans and the environment. To this end, regulators should not compare BioProtection products with chemical pesticides.

The discovery of new microbial control agents and research on formulation and delivery could boost the efficacy of BioProtection and consumer satisfaction. However, regulations must be adapted to make the development and commercialisation of these solutions more feasible, otherwise there will be a huge gap in the market after the removal of banned toxic chemical pesticides.

The recent EU commitment to reduce pesticide use by 50% within next 10 years is the right way forward, from an environmental and human health point of view. However, BioProtection products cannot fill this gap in the market if the current lengthy, and costly, EU registration process continues.

Bionema proves nematode control



Bionema Ltd, a leading UK-based biopesticide technology developer, has released a step-by-step video guide on how to control leatherjackets by using a beneficial nematode solution.

Leatherjackets (larvae of crane fly) cause serious turf damage to golf courses, sport fields, racecourses, and open green spaces through their extensive feeding on roots. The video, showing a nematode trial filmed at Neath Golf Club in Wales, offers guidelines for greenkeepers and grounds managers on how to apply nematodes (roundworms) to achieve successful control.

The crane fly species Tipula paludosa is univoltine and completes one generation during a year. Each female can lay 100-200 eggs in late August to mid-September. The eggs hatch within two weeks and move to the lower thatch layer where they feed throughout the winter season and continue growing, causing damage in turf which is visible in spring. By mid-August, late-stage leatherjackets begin to pupate and transform into adults, completing their life cycle.

Bionema witnessed excellent results at the Neath Golf Club field trial conducted between March 2019 and June 2020. The company used its unique Tri-Component solution, which comprises a virulent nematode species – NemaTrident, a biocompatible wetting agent – Nemaspreader® and specialised training and advice on effective use of the product.

Once applied, using a conventional sprayer, the nematodes attacked and killed the leatherjackets, preventing further pest population, without harming beneficial insects in the targeted area. This safe and environmentally friendly method has a 70-100% kill rate and is, on average, 20-30% more effective than other nematode products on the market.

Commenting on the use of product, Neath Golf Club Head Greenkeeper Mark Tucker says: “We’ve witnessed more than 85-90% control of leatherjackets in the first year with Bionema’s NemaTrident® solution. I was very skeptical about nematodes, but the results spoken for themselves. Last year we were hitting 30 leatherjackets per 20cm2 but after one year we are hitting zero. In addition, to the leatherjacket control, the most pleasing things for me is that root growth increased by about 80% – that is a secondary benefit. The product is more sustainable for the environment and so is a much better way of dealing with this issue”

Dr Minshad Ansari, Founder and CEO of Bionema and industry expert says: “It is very important to use the Tri-Component solution for decreasing leatherjacket infestations, which causes huge economic damage in the turf industry. We are documenting many success stories of nematode applications by educating users on correct application techniques. Our goal is to see an improvement in nematode efficacy by educating greenkeepers and grounds managers in the correct application of beneficial nematodes”.

Bionema is one of the few organisations that focus on a chemical-free method of crop protection and biocontrol. It focuses on natural product development, using fungi, bacteria, and nematodes to help reduce the usage of chemical pesticides which also offer an effective treatment for regulating chafer grub infestations as well as other common pests. Bionema’s pest control products are available through distributors in the UK.

The current problem is so serious, that last year, an emergency summit was called by Dr Ansari in spring 2019 with the aim of finding industry-led solutions to counter the threat of leatherjackets in the turf industry

To watch the video and learn more about nematode application visit TBC

Bionema Secures Portugal Distributor


Bionema has appointed Aquamatic Algarve as a distributor of their Nematrident® Range for the Turf and Amenity sector in Portugal

Bionema Ltd, UK BioTech company announced that it has signed a distribution agreement with Aquamatic Algarve for its NemaTrident® range products. The agreement permits Aquamatic to sell Bionema’s biological NemaTrident® range of products in the turf and amenity sector in Portugal.

Credit: Algarve Golf

NemaTrident® is a Tri-Component solution, designed for the control of rage of insect pests of horticulture, turf amenity and forestry. Crane flies (leatherjacket), Chafer grubs (Chafer beetles) and Mole crickets are a major pest in golf courses, sports grounds and lawns. The larval stage of these pests eats the roots of grasses causing economic damage to lawns and turf, leaving visible signs of yellowish patches. These pests cause millions in damage each year in lost income and repairs.

Bionema’s NemaTrident® Tri-Component solution incorporates a range of highly virulent insect-parasitic nematodes within the Heterorhabditis and Steinernema genera. These nematodes attack and destroy the larvae of the insect pests thus preventing future pests from developing. The NemaTrident system also incorporates Bionema’s patent-pending delivery technology, NemaSpreader®, which allows nematodes to disperse effectively in the soil and target pests. They are safe, non-toxic to users and consumers, decompose rapidly, and can be targeted at specific pests to avoid harming beneficial insects. End-users are also supported by Europe’s only certified biocontrol training program. The tri-component solution provides 70-100% control against pests for end users.

Aquamatic Algarve is the leading distributor of fertilizers, seed, irrigation, and specialities to the amenity sector in Portugal. The company is always looking for innovations for the improvement, maintenance and construction of sports, amenity, and turf sectors.  Bionema believes that Aquamatic has the best product knowledge and insight into the turf and amenity market, making it well-positioned to include this new range of biological products in Portugal.

Dr Minshad Ansari, CEO of Bionema, said: “In a market with significant potential, there is a clear opportunity for Aquamatic to continue helping greenkeepers, grounds managers and landscapers in the control of Chafer grubs and Leatherjackets larvae when chemicals such as Chlorpyrifos are now banned across Europe”.

Amelia Silva, Executive Director of Aquamatic said “our role is to provide the best potential solutions for our customers throughout Portugal, with the removal of many chemical pesticides we believe that biological solutions are the way forward. Bionema has demonstrated in the UK, to a wide range of high-profile clients, that they have very good technology but also most importantly the training and advice needed by end-users.”

5 Minutes with Dr Ansari


5 Minutes With… Dr Minshad A Ansari from Bionema

“It is necessary to develop and commercialise bio-based products not only to fill the gap in the market following the removal of toxic pesticides, but also to help the environment and human health.”

UK-headquartered Bionema is a leading biopesticide technology developer, specialising in chemical-free, organic crop protection. More and more companies across the globe are starting to switch from using synthetic pesticides to bio-based ones as consumers demand more natural products.

Research at Bionema is focused on the development of natural products to protect crops from pest and disease damage, reducing the use of synthetic pesticides, enhancing food security and increasing crop yields. Bionema supplies specialist bio-control products to the horticulture, turf and amenity and forestry sectors.

Here, Bio Market Insights’ Liz Gyekye catches up with Bionema (@Bionema) founder and CEO Minshad Ansari.

Liz Gyekye (LG): What’s the story behind your brand?

Dr Minshad A Ansari (MAA): I started Bionema to develop natural alternatives to chemical pesticides.  We develop biopesticide technologies using natural microbes to protect crops from insect damage, reducing the use of synthetic pesticides, enhancing food security and increasing crop yields. I have developed my passion to reduce the use of toxic pesticides in the environment and in our food. It is necessary to develop and commercialise bio-based products not only to fill the gap in the market following the removal of toxic pesticides, but also to help the environment and human health. Bionema is a biopesticide technology developer which helps to contribute to global food security by developing and bringing new products to market.

LG: Before doing your current role, what did you use to do?

MAA: I was a passionate research scientist for 15 years and I have worked in India, Belgium and the UK developing environmentally-friendly pest and disease control solutions. However, as an academic, there are limited things one can do, see and think.  Furthermore, the practical reality is far away from publishing research articles in international journals. Research and novel findings only help society when they have an impact or are commercialised for a good cause. Publishing in Nature of Science doesn’t solve society’s problems, but researching, developing and commercialising can have a big impact – that’s what is needed. Engagement between academia and industry is lacking globally, so we don’t have many products in the market, but we have tonnes of research articles online which don’t produce or solve the current problem such as lack of poor biopesticide formulations and products in the market.

I recently founded The Global Biopesticide Summit (TGBPS) which is part of the Wold Biopesticide Forum, as a platform to bridge the gap between academia and industry by encouraging academics to collaborate with industry for commercialisation and high impact. TGBPS has leverage on new biopesticide technologies and an extensive global network of investors, companies, institutions, corporate and advisers.

LG: What’s been the biggest challenge in growing the company?

MAA: I think business is not for everyone. To succeed in business, you not only need disruptive novel ideas, but people, finance, perfect timing and market opportunities.

When I left the academic world in 2012, I had nothing but a novel idea and a market opportunity, which was not enough to start a technology business. The biggest challenge was to develop and commercialise a new biopesticide product with no financial support and commercial experience. However, I was continuously working towards my goal despite serious financial setbacks. I must thank my lovely wife and family who always supported me, even when I had to work more than 112 hours per week. Today, Bionema is trading and registering novel products which will be in the market by 2022.

LG: What’s coming up next for your company?

MAA: Recent equity investment of £680,000 and more than £900,000 of grant funding have certainly sped up our technology development and product registration. Currently, we are trading in the UK and France, and  we are making plans to expand into other EU countries and continue investing in development. Looking forward, we expect to register two new biopesticide products by 2022, generate significant sales revenue and create 25 jobs by 2025.

LG: What advice would you give to someone else looking to launch their own company/product in this space?

MAA: You need to think about your product at least 100 times before you proceed. If you truly believe in your novel idea or breaking technology then go ahead, but make sure you have a good initial support base. Bionema benefited from start-up support from Swansea University’s Innovations team, the Welsh Government and family funds.  Remember the success rate for new businesses in this space is less than 2%, so be prepared for a rough ride, being an entrepreneur is not everyone’s cup of tea.

LG: What’s your favourite sustainable/bio-based product?

MAA: Bionema’s own NemaTrident of course. We have received a number of awards recently for innovation. The judges at the Welsh Business Awards said: “[Bionema] has used innovation to develop a product which has the potential to benefit all mankind, applying naturally occurring organisms to help minimise pesticides is clearly a positive step forward.”

I also have to be impartial, so outside of Bionema’s range I really like some of the new technologies that are improving water retention in soil as this is a critical issue in helping large parts of the world to become self-sufficient in food production and is also an enabler to effective application of biological pest control products.

Bionema secures Innovate UK grant


Bionema Ltd, a leading UK-based biotechnology company, has received a grant from Innovate UK to support the company’s continual development of its bioinsecticide microencapsulation formulation, which delivers an effective alternative to chemical pesticides.

This additional £98,000 Continuity Grant complements a initial £1.0 million in funding support from Innovate UK, the national funding agency that investing in science and research in the UK, and from the Welsh Government’s SMART Cymru.

Dr Minshad Ansari, a world-leading biopesticide expert who leads Bionema’s research team, says:

“The funding is helping the company to continue the development of its microencapsulation formulation and delivery systems, which is crucial to the development of effective biopesticide products.

Effective control of pests, such as western flower thrips, aphids, whitefly and spider mites, require a robust formulation for targeted delivery. Currently, these pests are controlled by conventional chemical insecticides but some of them have now developed product resistance, while other products have been removed from the market, due to their harmful impact on the environment and human health. Biopesticide formulation and its targeted delivery is a more stable and sustainable approach for controlling these pests that are causing billions of dollars of crop damage on a world-wide scale.”

The outcome of this Continuity Grant-funded project will be a unique manufacturing process of proven microencapsulation formulation technology for next-generation bioinsecticide control. The new microencapsulated products will be registered and distributed across Europe, the United States and Canada. Currently, trials are in place with several multi-national chemical companies and distributors to commercialise the technology.

“We’ve been working for almost five years on biopesticide formulation development,” Dr Ansari says. “We’ve encapsulated a number of fungal spores in a capsule form that can be delivered to plant surfaces for targeting soft body insects. We just need to adapt that to work for this project.

“The encapsulated formulations also control release mechanisms, which can last longer and retain moisture on the leaf surface for targeting small insects such as spider mites. The overall goal is to demonstrate the robustness and stability of this formulation to see positive results in different environments.”

The project team includes formulation experts from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham and at Bionema. In addition to Bionema’s research, development and commercial teams, Silsoe Spray Application Unit is also testing the product’s large-scale applicability and Applied Insect Science, regulatory service is involved for the registration of this product.

For more information please contact Dr Minshad A Ansari, CEO of Bionema. +44 (0)1792 606916; +44 (0)7936 450 606

A Case Study: Neath Golf Club

A Case Study: Biological control of leatherjackets at Neath Golf Club

Set on the hills overlooking the coast of South Wales sits Neath Golf Club. In late-2018, their golf course suffered from an overwhelming infestation of leatherjackets. Dying grass exposed rough soil as badgers tore up the turf for a tasty meal, which meant parts of the course simply became unplayable.

Neath needed a solution. Chemical controls for turf pests have been phased out which has left many course managers searching for an alternative. Neath Golf Club decided to try something new – Bionema, a leading UK biopesticide developer. Led by Dr Minshad Ansari, a biological expert with over 20 years’ experience, Bionema began to investigate the problem.

Bionema helped Neath Golf Club develop and implement a one-year plan using our unique Tri-Component solution:

For biological control of leatherjackets in amenity/sports turf and landscaped areas
For biological control of leatherjackets in amenity/sports turf and landscaped areas

1. Beneficial nematodes: NemaTrident®L

2. Our biocompatible wetting agent: NemaSpreader®

3. Our expert training and advice

4. Rapid turf biostimulant: NutriStimula®Turf


Bionema’s experts confirmed leatherjacket identification as the pest: Tipula paludosa – the daddy long leg. With this information, we set out a 1-year plan identifying optimal NemaTrident®L application times to align with the most vulnerable stages of the lifecycle:

  • Late-April: Spring application
  • Late-September: Autumn application

Each season consisted of full dose nematode applied twice at weekly interval to help prolong the efficacy of the nematodes. Applications were done using a boom sprayer. Aeration equipment was used to make tiny holes which helped the nematodes bypass the thatch and be delivered to their target.

To help with the rapidly-approaching 2019 golf season, we suggested the use of NutriStimula®Turf to help their turf recover quickly for a healthy playing surface.

Larval density was used to monitor the results. Records of larval density were taken from soil plugs on each approach. This occurred at regular intervals through the year.


Bionema’s plan worked. One-year on, Neath Golf Club had experienced an incredible 89% decline in grub density across the course with all trial areas surpassing 70% control. NutriStimula®Turf offered rapid grass growth and healthy restoration of the damaged course for the 2019 golf season.


Successful control of the leatherjackets at Neath Golf Club has: