ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., July 9, 2014 – – EcoPesticides International, Inc., has signed a licensing agreement for a novel “green” microbial-based pesticide technology with STC.UNM, the University of New Mexico’s technology transfer and economic development organization.
EcoPesticides is a New Mexico-based company developing pesticides that use naturally occurring microorganisms to control a variety of insect pests. The exclusive licensing agreement encompasses global rights to patent-pending technology that addresses the performance challenges that microbial pesticides face in field applications. This formulation and delivery encapsulation technology extends the effectiveness of the pesticide. A current focus of EcoPesticides’ activities is in the control of range and crops pests, such as locusts and grasshoppers, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The technology was developed at the University of New Mexico (UNM) by Ravi V. Durvasula, M.D., and Adam Forshaw, MSc, founders of EcoPesticides.
The “green” technology uses naturally occurring bacteria and fungi proven lethal to specific insect targets. The living biologic material is encapsulated in a biopolymer as protection from UV rays and heat, thus extending viability and performance of the product. EcoPesticides products are intended to do no harm to people, animals, beneficial insects, or the environment.
EcoPesticides President and CEO Les Stewart explains that agribusiness, government, investors, and the public are increasingly open to alternatives to chemical pesticides. “There is a growing recognition that some chemical pesticides potentially do more harm than good. For example, the European Commission has banned the neonicotinoid family of pesticides for two years because of the concern of their acute risk to honey bees and possibly being a cause of colony collapse. Additionally, the President of the United States has recently focused on the declining health of honeybee populations and concern that chemical pesticides may be playing a role in this. This is serious as 87 of the leading 115 food crops are dependent upon animal pollination.”
Stewart added, “What is exciting about our technology is that it enables potentially widespread use of microbial pesticides and facilitates the targeting of pests, while minimizing exposure to non-target insects. The market potential for effective, microbial-based pesticide is very attractive—an estimated $5 billion by 2020, which is 10 percent of the global pesticide market.”
STC.UNM CEO Lisa Kuuttila said the University of New Mexico is pleased EcoPesticides has licensed the technology. “I see this as a ‘just in time’ technology. The world needs to feed a growing population while protecting the environment. This technology has the potential to create a new, more sustainable model for global agribusiness. We are eager to support EcoPesticides as they work toward commercialization.”
EcoPesticides is currently in its Series A fundraising round and is actively pursuing patents in countries where commercial opportunity is the greatest. The company is finalizing a major research effort in Africa supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.