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Natural botrytis-killing product licenced

A British company is on the cusp of commercialising an all-natural product that can kill the grape fungus botrytis and is harmless to the honey bee.

Botrytis cinerea on Riesling grapes.

Eden Research announced this week that it had signed an exclusive agreement with SIPCAM, a chemical manufacturing company based in Milan, to sell 3AEY – an all-natural product that kills the grape fungus botrytis and protects grapes from pests.

Not only is 3AEY totally natural, made from tea tree oil and lemon juice, but is harmless to the honey bee whose population is currently under significant threat.

Neonicotinoids, the pesticide currently used to protect crop seeds, were banned by the EU Commission for their effects on honey bee populations.

That ban will expire this year with many of the biggest chemical companies, as well as environmental campaigners, calling for it to remain intact.

3AY, which is said to be as effective as its toxic counterparts, could therefore be the answer.

The product is based on the company’s encapsulation technology which takes naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants, known as terpenes, and harnesses their effects to produce a longer lasting pesticides.

For example, lemon juice can kill aphids, but only for 12 hours. When subject to Eden’s encapsulation technology, it can remain active for up to 14 days.

Explaining the technology a spokesperson for Eden said: “Historically, terpenes have had limited commercial use in the agrochemical sector due to their volatility, phytotoxicity and poor solubility. Eden’s platform encapsulation technology provides a unique, environmentally friendly solution to these problems and enables terpenes to be used as effective, low-risk agrochemicals.”

The company has so far spent £12 million developing the technology over the course of a decade, with this agreement coming off the back of a number of agricultural trials of the product, including one in Greece that was seen to successfully combat botrytis in grapes.

Sean Smith, chief executive officer of Eden, said: “The development and commercialisation of plant protection products with an established partner in Spain and Italy will ensure that we have exposure to these key grape growing regions. We are delighted to work with partners such as SIPCAM, and their affiliated companies globally, to ensure that a steady pipeline of products continue through this final regulatory process and into commercial sales.”

It is hoped that 3AEY will be commercialised on a larger scale by SIPCAM with this being the first of a number of agreements anticipated across the world.

Giovanni Affaba, managing director of SIPCAM, said: “We are delighted with this agreement, a milestone for us in the direction of building up a well-integrated portfolio of agrochemicals and natural products, able to highlight the well-known technical skills of our company to offer solutions to farmers able to satisfy their needs.”

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