Our increasingly interconnected world is helping crop pests spread ever faster and more widely. Chemical pest controls are effective but expensive and soon become obsolete as organisms evolve resistance.
Biological pest controls are a natural solution to agricultural pests that, compared with chemical pesticides, need fewer repetitive treatments, are less likely to engender resistant pest strains and don’t present pollution problems.
But use of biological pest controls has been hindered by a UN treaty. The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity was intended to protect countries from unfettered exploitation of biological resources by multinationals. A worthy goal. But it had the unintended side effect of slowing down approvals for export of biological pest control organisms, to the detriment of countries with the highest biodiversity which unsurprisingly are the richest source of these useful species.
The good news (in a Reuters report) is that the treaty is being renegotiated with new rules, expected to be in place by 2011, that promise a more open exchange of biological pest control organisms. The measures are sure to benefit both the source countries and farmers worldwide who are faced with ever-increasing pest problems.