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Biopesticides: Present Status and the Future Prospects

Suresh Kumar* and Archana Singh

Division of Biochemistry, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110012, India
*Corresponding Author:
Suresh Kumar
Division of Biochemistry, Indian Agricultural
Research Institute, New Delhi-110012, India
Tel: +911125843379
E-mail: sureshkumar3_in@yahoo.co.uk
Received date: April 25, 2015; Accepted date: May 04, 2015; Published date: May 11, 2015
Citation: Kumar S, Singh A (2015) Biopesticides: Present Status and the Future Prospects. J Biofertil
Biopestici 6:e129. doi:10.4172/2471-2728.1000e129
Copyright: 2015 Kumar S, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original author and source are credited.
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fertilizers; pesticides; agricultural
Agriculture is adversely affected by numerous pests like bacteria, fungi, weeds and insects, leading to reduced
yield and poor quality of the produce [1]. Since 1960s, the most common method for pest control has been the
intensive use of synthetic pesticides. Such pesticide was adopted in 1940s with the use of dichloro-diphenyl-
trichloroethane (DDT), followed by other organophosphate and carbamate pesticides [2]. Thereafter, Green
Revolution technology of crop production could increase food production in developing countries through the
intensive use of inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc. Albeit, the use of the agrochemicals helped a
lot in increasing agricultural productivity; they have caused adverse effects on soil health, water quality,
produce quality and developed problems like insect resistance, genetic variation in plants, toxic residues food
and feed. Moreover dependence on chemical pesticides and their indiscriminate use caused several
detrimental effects on the Recognizing the ill effects of the agrochemicals such as pesticide resistance, pest
resurgence, outbreak of secondary pests, pesticide residues in the produce, soil, air and water [3], it has
become important now to develop alternatives of these synthetic agro-inputs. The need of the day is to produce
maximum from the diminishing natural resources and protect the produce from post-harvest loses without
adversely affecting the environment. Use of biofertilizers and biopesticides can play major role in dealing with
these challenges in a sustainable manner.
Biopesticides and biofertilizers, the naturally occurring formulations made from the substances that control
pests by non toxic mechanisms and in ecofriendly manner, are not newer technologies. They have been used
in various forms since human civilization. Biopesticides being a living organisms (natural enemies) or products
there of pose less threat to the environment and to human health, hence can be used for the management of
pests. One of the most widely used microbial biopesticides isBacillus thuringiensis, popularly known as Bt.
Potential benefits of the use of biopesticides to agriculture and public health programmes are considerable.

Advantages of Biopesticide
Biopesticide is gaining interest because of its advantages associated with the environmental safety, target-
specificity, efficacy, biodegradability and suitability in the integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Thus,
biopesticide is one of the promising alternatives to manage environmental pollutions. Though potential
application of biopesticides in environmental safety is well known, it has gained interest in view of the growing
demands for organic food. Although use of agrochemicals is indispensable to meet the ever growing demands
of food, feed and fodder, opportunities do exist in selected crops and niche areas where biopesticides can be
used as a component of IPM. Through wider application of biopesticides in agriculture and health programs,
environmental safety can be beneficially affected.
Present Status
Presently, biopesticides cover only 2% of the plant protectants used globally; however its growth rate shows an
increasing trend in past two decades. Global production of biopesticides has been estimated to be over 3,000
tons per year, which is increasing rapidly. Increasing demand of residue-free agricultural produce, growing
organic food market and easier registration than chemical pesticides are some of the key drivers of the
biopesticide market. Globally, the use of biopesticides is increasing steadily by 10% every year. About 90% of
the microbial biopesticides are derived from just one entomopathogenic bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis. More
than 200 products are being sold in the US market, compared to only 60 comparable products in the EU. More
than 225 microbial biopesticides are manufactured in 30 OECD countries [4]. The NAFTA countries (USA,
Canada, and Mexico) use about 45% of the biopesticides sold, while Asia lacks behind with the use of only 5%
of biopesticides sold world over [5].
Most of the countries have amended their policies to minimize the use of chemical pesticides and promote the
use of biopesticides; however biopesticides are still largely regulated by the system originally designed for
chemical pesticides. This has created market entry barriers by imposing burdensome costs on the biopesticide
industry [6]. Although for effective utilization of biopesticides several technological and policy gaps have been
identified, they need to be addressed properly at the country level. Policy measures need to be strengthened in
order to reduce excessive use of chemical pesticides and to promote the use of biopesticides.
One of the major obstacles in promoting biopesticides as alternative to chemical pesticides is the lack of profile
of biopesticide, which reflects weakness of the supporting policy network. Relative immaturity of the policy
network, limited resources and capabilities, and lack of trust between regulators and producers are some of the
serious problems. Better understanding of the mode of action of biopesticides, their effects and regulatory
issues that arise in their adoption may help further to raise their profile among the public, policy-makers and
hence enable them to realize their contributions to sustainability. Since the environmental safety is a global
concern, we need to create awareness among the farmers, manufacturers, government agencies, policy
makers and the common men to switch-over to biopesticides for the pest management requirements.

Recent Advances
The science of biopesticide is still considered to be young and evolving. In-depth research is needed in many
areas such as production, formulation, delivery and commercialization of the products. Some of the
biopesticides, currently under development, may prove to be excellent alternatives to the chemical pesticides.
Many of them are based on the locally available plants like beshram, neem, garlic, triphala, pinus kesia etc.
which can be easily processed and made available to the farmers to improve biopesticide consumption. In
addition to the continuous search for new biomolecules and improving efficiency of the known biopesticides,
recombinant DNA technology is also being deployed for enhancing efficacy of biopesticides. Novel fusion
proteins are being designed to develop next-generation biopesticides. The technology allows a toxin (not toxic
to higher animals) to be combined with a carrier protein which makes it toxic to insect pests when consumed
orally, while it was toxic only when injected into a target prey by a predator [7]. The fusion protein may be
produced as a recombinant protein in microbial system, which can be scaled up for industrial production and
commercial formulations. Several other innovative approaches are also being applied to develop biopesticides
as effective, efficient and acceptable pest control measures.

Future Prospects
Biopesticides are attracting global attention as safer strategy to manage pest populations such as weeds, plant
pathogens and insects while posing less risk to human being and the environment. In the US, biopesticides are
monitored by Environmental Protection Agency which supports their registration based on the findings of no
unreasonable adverse effects to human and the environment to permit their sale and distribution under the
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as ensures a reasonable certainty of no
harm under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to provide pesticide residue-free food and
feed [8]. Most of the times, it is the farmers who are affected by the problems of pesticide resistance and
withdrawal of plant protection products, and yet they are policy takers rather than policy makers. Hence, a
public-private sector approach to the development, manufacturing and sale of environment friendly alternatives
to chemical pesticides for developing countries is the need of the day.
Research in production, formulation and delivery may greatly assist in commercialization of biopesticides. More
research is needed towards integrating biological agents into production system, improving capability of
developing countries to manufacture and use biopesticides. At the same time, it is also required to encourage
public funded programmes, commercial investors and pesticide companies to take up biopesticide enterprises.
Equally important is the development of strict regulatory mechanisms to maintain the quality and availability of
the biopesticides at affordable cost in the developing countries. Thus, various aspects of biopesticides covering
the current status, constraints, prospects and regulatory network towards their effective utilization for the
benefit of human kind need to be reviewed regularly.

Concluding Remarks
The world production and utilization of biopesticides are increasing at a rapid pace. The interest in organic
farming and pesticide residuefree agricultural produce would certainly warrant increased adoption of
biopesticides by the farmers. Training on production and quality control to manufacturers, and organizational
training to extension workers and farmers to popularize biopesticides may be essential for better adoption of
this technology. As environmental safety is a global concern, we need to create awareness among the farmers,
manufacturers, government agencies, policy makers and the common men to switch-over to biopesticides for
pest management requirements. It is also believed that biological pesticides may be less vulnerable to genetic
variations in plant populations that cause problems related to pesticide resistance. If deployed appropriately,
biopesticides have potential to bring sustainability to global agriculture for food and feed security.
The views expressed here are those of the authors only. These may not necessarily be the views of the
institution/organization the authors are associated with.


1 Kumar S (2012) Biopesticides: a need for food and environmental safety. J Biofertil Biopestici 3:e107.

1 Nicholson GM (2007) Fighting the global pest problem: preface to the special toxicon issue on insecticidal
toxins and their potential for insect pest control. Toxicon 49:413-422.

1 Al-Zaidi AA, Elhag EA, Al-Otaibi SH, Baig MB (2011) Negative effects of pesticides on the environment and
the farmers awareness in Saudi Arabia: a case study. J Anim Plant Sci 21:605-611.

1 Hubbard M, Hynes RK, Erlandson M, Bailey KL (2014) The biochemistry behind biopesticide efficacy.
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1 Bailey KL, Boyetchko SM, Lngle T (2010) Social and economic drivers shaping the future of biological
control: a Canadian perspective on the factors affecting the development and use of microbial biopesticides.
Biol Control 52:221229.

1 Kumar S, Singh A (2014) Biopesticides for integrated crop management: environmental and regulatory
aspects. J Biofertil Biopestici 5: e121.

1 Fitches E, Edwards MG, Mee C, Grishin E, Gatehouse AMR, Edwards JP, Gatehouse JA (2004) Fusion
proteins containing insect-specific toxins as pest control agents: snowdrop lectin delivers fused insecticidal
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1 Leahy J, Mendelsohn M, Kough J, Jones R, Berckes N (2014) Biopesticide oversight and registration at the
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India, Science and Technology: 2008

S&T for Rural India and Inclusive Growth

Potential of Biopesticide in Indian Agriculture vis-

a-vis Rural Development

Bikramjit Sinha and Indranil Biswas

This article focuses on the importance of biopesticides in Indian agriculture and

parallel rural development particularly as a component of the Integrated Pest
Management System. But there are certain limitations like irregular availability of
biopesticides in the market and the gradual disappearance of mixed/multiple
cropping affecting the growth of biopesticides. It is observed that India occupies a
comparatively better position in the arena of biopesticides; in terms of growth of
usage, percentage share of the total pesticide market and also in research
publications. The driving forces behind this progress are identified as huge research
infrastructure (universities and bio-control labs) and favorable public support
system/policies. Subsequently, it delves on strategies to incorporate the promotion
of biopesticides into rural development efforts like recognition of the huge
traditional knowledge base through a Public Guarantee System and
incentivize/support the purchase and use of biopesticides developed using
indigenous technologies.
So far, use of synthetic chemical pesticides had been the widely used approach for
reducing the estimated 45% gross crop loss due to pests and diseases, amounting
to around Rs. 290 billion per annum. More and more quantities of chemicals are
used for agricultural intensification to feed an ever growing population. In fact, the
pest induced loss is on the rise despite increasing usage of pesticides. Fortunately,
realization of the negative effects of these chemicals on nature and natural
resources like pollution, pesticide residue, pesticide resistance etc, have
forced many to shift focus on to more reliable, sustainable and environment friendly
agents of pest control, the biopesticides. In spite of the claimed efficacy, their use,
however, has remained very low due to a number of socio-economic, technological
and institutional constraints. Nonetheless, rise in income levels due to a growing
economy coupled with increasing awareness of health related effects of chemical
pesticides has increased the demand of organic food. In view of this demand and
the governments efforts to mitigate climate change, biopesticides are going to play
an important role in future pest management programmes.

Scope of Biopesticides
A pesticide that is of biological origin i.e., viruses, bacteria, pheromones, plant or
animal compounds is known as biopesticide. Or simply origin of the active
ingredient of a biopesticide is natural not synthetic. They are highly specific
affecting only the targeted pest or closely related pests and do not harm humans or
beneficial organisms while chemical pesticides are broad spectrum and known to
affect non-target organisms including predators and parasites as well as humans.
The striking feature of biopesticides is environment friendliness and easy
biodegradability, thereby resulting in lower pesticide residues and largely avoiding
pollution problems associated with chemical pesticides. Further, use of biopesticides
as a component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs can greatly
decrease the use of conventional (chemical) pesticides, while achieving almost the
same level of crop yield. However, effective use of biopesticides demands
understanding of a great deal about managing pests especially by the end users.
In terms of production and commercialization also biopesticides have an edge over
chemical pesticides like low research expenditure, faster rate of product
development as well as flexible registration process.

Factors affecting growth of biopesticides

However, some of the factors which have restricted the growth of biopesticides are:

Low reliability because of low stability in effect

Target specificity which distracts farmers

Slow in action compared to synthetics

Shorter shelf life

Erratic availability of biopesticides in the market

Already established and strong market of chemical pesticides

Regulatory system favorable to chemical pesticides, and

The gradual disappearance of multiple or mixed cropping, which is known to

keep away the magic bullet-chemical pesticide.

Usage of Biopesticides
The global weighted average consumption level of biopesticides is approximately 1
kg/ha. With the global organic farming area comprising about 24 million hectares,
global biopesticide consumption is thus estimated at about 24 million kg.

Industry Overview
The Biopesticide market is growing very rapidly. In 2005, biopesticides accounted
for about 2.5% of the total pesticide market, which was merely 0.2% during 2000.
This share is expected to grow to about 4.2% by 2010 while the market value is
estimated to reach more than US$ 1 billion (Source: BCC research). However, the
overall growth rate of biopesticides is estimated to be about 10% per annum for the
next 5 years.
In terms of use, orchards claim the largest share (55%) of the total biopesticides
used. Region wise, North America consumes the largest share (40%) of the global
biopesticide production followed by Europe and Oceanic countries accounting for
20% each.

Figure 1: Trend of global pesticide vis--vis biopesticide market

Source: Business Communication Company Inc.

R &D status of biopesticides

The biopesticide R&D status presented here is based on two parameters;
publications and patents. This status is based on the information available in the
Scopus database which was searched with the keyword biopesticide for the time
period up to 2007.
Total Indian publication on biopesticide stands at 443 papers which accounts for
13.23% of the 3,348 global papers in the field. The share of India in biopesticide
related patents is only 3.55% of the global holdings.

Fig 2: Trend of bio-pesticide research outputs

Source: Scopus; keyword-biopesticide

Research publications in biopesticides from India, as well as the world, are
increasing but the degree of increase is very high in case of global publications. The
average annual growth rate of global publications during the specified period is
51.1% while that of India is 37.4%. In terms of patenting, Indian condition appears
to be very poor whereas in the case of global patents it is showing a slight increase
over the years. India has so far secured only 19 patents in biopesticides.

Biopesticide in India
Biopesticides represent only 2.89% (as on 2005) of the overall pesticide market in
India and is expected to exhibit an annual growth rate of about 2.3% in the coming
years (Thakore, 2006). In India, so far only 12 types of biopesticides have been
registered under the Insecticide Act, 1968
(www.nicm.org.in/biopesticides/registered.htm). Neem based pesticides, Bacillus
thuringensis, NPV and Trichoderma are the major biopesticides produced and used
in India (http://coe.mse.ac.in/taxproj.asp). Whereas more than 190 synthetics are
registered for use as chemical pesticides. Most of the biopesticides find use in public
health, except a few that are used in agriculture. Besides, i) transgenic plants and
ii) beneficial organisms called bio-agents: are used for pest management in India.
Consumption of biopesticides has increased from 219 metric tons in 1996-97 to 683
metric tons in 2000-01, and about 85% of the biopesticides used are neem based
products. Consumption of chemical pesticides has significantly fallen from 56,114
MT to 43,584 MT during the same period.

Table 1: Annual availability of biopesticides in India

Biopesticides/Bioagents Quantity/annum (approx)

Neem 300 PPM 1,000,000 L
Neem 1500 PPM 250,000 L
Bt 50,000 kg
NPV (liquid) 500,000 Le
Beauveria Meager
Pheromone traps 500,000 nos.
Lures 2 million
Trichogramma 1 million
Chrysoperla & other
biocontrol insects
Trichoderma 500 T

Source: Kalra & Khanuja 2007

Some success stories about successful utilization of biopesticides and bio-control

agents in Indian agriculture include (Kalra & Khanuja, 2007):

Control of diamondback moths by Bacillus thuringiensis.

Control of mango hoppers and mealy bugs and coffee pod borer
by Beauveria.

Control of Helicoverpa on cotton, pigeon-pea, and tomato by Bacillus


Control of white fly on cotton by neem products.

Control of Helicoverpa on gram by N.P.V.

Control of sugarcane borers by Trichogramma.

Control of rots and wilts in various crops by Trichoderma-based products.

Public support system

The Indian government is promoting research, production, registration and
adoption of biopesticides with open hands, through various rules, regulations,
policies and schemes. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) spearheads the
promotion of biopesticides, especially research funding and production.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has 31 bio-control production
facilities while DBT supports another 22. The National Agriculture Technology
Project (NATP) led IPM project during 1998 to 2005 also enhanced the use of
biopesticides. States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh already have 200
laboratories producing biopesticides.

The National Centre for Integrated Pest Management (NCIPM) looks after plant
protection needs in various agro-climatic zones of the country. Besides, it oversees
the setting up and running of State Bio-control Labs (SBCLs). There are around 38
such SBCLs across the country, which are engaged in production and distribution of
natural predators and parasites to farmers.
The Insecticide Act of 1968 has been amended accordingly to simplify the process
of registration to allow speedier development and production of biopesticides.
The National Farmer Policy 2007 has strongly recommended the promotion of
biopesticides for increasing agricultural production, sustaining the health of farmers
and environment. It also includes the clause that biopesticides would be treated at
par with chemical pesticides in terms of support and promotion.

Table 2: Acts and policies for regulation and promotion of biopesticides in


Acts/Policies Objective

To regulate the import, manufacture,

sale, transport, distribution and use of
The Insecticide Act, 1968 [Act] insecticides with a view to prevent risk
to human beings or animals, and for
matters connected therewith

Insecticides (Amendment) Act, 2000

Notifications issued recently under the

Insecticide Act, 1968
Functioning of CIB, licensing,
The Insecticide Rules, 1971 [Rules] registration, production, packaging and
transport of insecticides
To prevent the introduction into and the
transport from one state to another in
The Destructive Insects and Pests Act,
India of any insects, fungus or other
1914 [Act]
pest which or may be destructive to
The Destructive Insects and Pests
(Amendments and validation) Act, 1992

The Plants, Fruits and Seeds Order,

Regarding regulation of import into India
1989 [Act]

Recent Amendments to PFS Order, 1989

To promote use of biopesticides: neem

Promotion of Integrated Pest based pesticides, bacillus based
Management, 1991 [Scheme] biopesticides, insect pathogen as
alternative to chemical pesticides
National Agriculture Policy 2000 Recommends use of biotechnology for
[Policy] evolving pest-resistant crop plants
Recommended support and promotion of
National Farmer Policy 2007
biopesticides as par with chemical

How biopesticides can contribute to rural development?

Growth of the agriculture sector is a prerequisite for economic development in
general and rural development in particular. And this growth must be both pro-poor
and environmentally sustainable to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in
rural areas.
This growth can be accelerated in part through recognition and capitalization of the
rich traditional knowledge base of India especially in areas like eco-friendly pest
management. Lets have a look at the gamut of information already available from
the traditional wisdom. As many as 2,121 plant species are documented to possess
pest management properties, 1,005 species of plants exhibiting insecticide
properties, 384 with anti-feedant properties, 297 with repellant properties, 27 with
attractant properties and 31 with growth inhabiting properties have been identified.
Some plants like Azadirachta, Cymbopogon have already been exploited for
commercial production of biopesticides. Hundreds of such plants like Mahua,
Tagetes, and Chenopodium etc. await serious attention.
Institutes like Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, National Innovation
Foundation and others are involved in exploring and promoting traditional
pesticides. A lot more needs to be done for optimum utilization of the traditional
wisdom for sustainable rural development.
In this regard the recommendation suggested by the National Farmer Commission
is praiseworthy. It says that the government should provide incentive/support
measures for promoting the purchase of products developed through indigenous
technologies especially in some areas including biopesticides. This is indeed a very
concrete approach to boost rural livelihood and though the National Farmers Policy,
2007 recommended support and promotion of biopesticides as per with chemical
pesticides, it did not spell out any specific mechanism of support like the one being
mentioned here.
Another approach to promote biopesticide use vis--vis rural development is to
work out a mechanism to certify traditional biopesticides in the line of Public
Guarantee System (PGS) of organic products which is still under discussion. This
certification system should be started and integrated with the Panchayat System for
administrative control. The universities and research organizations can contribute to
the certification process by providing empirical scientific efficacy of the traditional
Biopesticide has the potential to be developed into a rural industry like many other
sectors. For instance Natural dye has successfully emerged as a rural household
industry in the villages adopted by Gandhigram in Tamil Nadu. Likewise, the
production of biopesticides can be a decentralized activity under the Ministry of
Rural development. But to create such an industry a lot of ground work needs to be
done such as appropriate mechanism of production (including selection of products
and processes, beneficiaries, technical know-how) and marketing and such others.


As reported, Indias total pesticide consumption stands at 1,00,000 ton. The

area under organic cultivation (crops) in India is estimated to be around
1,00,000 hectare. Besides, there are lakhs of hectare of forest area being
certified as organic. Further, some states like Uttaranchal and Sikkim have
declared their states as organic. Moreover, the area under organic crop
cultivation is going to increase substantially because of the growing demand
of organic food, a result of increasing health consciousness among the
people. This indicates that there is huge scope for growth of the biopesticide
sector in India.

Analysts believe that due to rising cost of developing new effective molecules
and the non-capability of most Indian companies associated with the
pesticide industry to invest such huge amount, there would be a greater
development in the biopesticides sector (Desai, 1997).

Due to its rich biodiversity India offers plenty of scope in terms of sources for
natural biological control organisms as well as natural plant based pesticides.

The rich traditional knowledge base available with the highly diverse
indigenous communities in India may provide valuable clues for developing
newer and effective biopesticide.

There exist opportunities for identification of novel sources of biopesticides;

for instance, exploration and utilization of nanosilica as a potential agent of

The supply chain management needs to be strengthened in order to increase

the usage of biopesticides. In this regard, an efficient delivery system from
the place of production (factory) to place of utilization (farm) of biopesticides
is quite essential.

Suggested Readings:

ADB (Asian Development Bank), 2000. Rural Asia: Beyond the Green Revolution. ADB Manila,

Desai ST. 1997. Chemical industry in the post independence era: a finance analysis point of
view. Chemical Business, 11 (1), pXXV, 4p.
Kalra A & Khanuja SPS. 2007. Research and Development priorities for biopesticide and
biofertiliser products for sustainable agriculture in India. In. Business Potential for Agricultural
Biotechnology (Edited by Teng PS). Asian Productivity Organisation. Pp: 96-102.

Thakore Y. 2006. The biopesticide market for global agricultural use. Industrial Biotechnology,
Fall 2006: 194-208.


The New biopesticide market. Business Communication Company

Inc. http://www.bccresearch.com/report/CHM029B.html

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