Certis U.S.A. L.L.C. has launched the biopesticide Gemstar insecticidal virus in Brazil for the control of corn earworm (Helicoverpa armigera), a major pest of Brazil’s cotton and soybean crops. To introduce Gemstar to Brazil, Certis USA worked closely with its Brazilian development and distribution partners Bio Controle of Indaituba and Iharabras S/A Chemical Industries of Sorocaba.
Corn earworm is responsible for billions of dollars in losses last year to Brazil’s cotton and soybean crops. First identified in northeastern Brazil two years ago, corn earworm is now damaging cotton, soybeans, corn and bean crops in 10 states. This April the Brazilian state of Bahia declared a state of emergency, and the Brazilian government has granted emergency approval for the use of Gemstar to control corn earworm on cotton and soybean crops.
The active ingredient of Gemstar is a naturally occurring nucleopolyhedrovirus that infects corn earworm larvae. This virus is very host specific. It does not infect beneficial insects, fish, wildlife, livestock or humans and its use does not harm the environment. Corn earworm larvae feeding on a crop sprayed with Gemstar become infected by ingesting the virus particles deposited on the plant. An infected larva stops feeding as the virus replicates quickly within its body, destroying its internal organs. When it dies, its body disintegrates, releasing billions of new virus particles which may be ingested by other larvae of the same or later generations feeding in the same area. Gemstar has been successfully used by growers in several countries around the world to control corn earworms in corn, sorghum and vegetable crops, as well as cotton.
“The corn earworm populations in Brazil are unprecedented in Brazilian agriculture,” said Mike Dimock, Ph.D., Research Director of Certis USA. “The situation, however, is another excellent example about how biopesticides have become key tools in the management of today’s pest outbreaks. A biopesticide like Gemstar employs a novel mode of action that is highly effective in controlling corn earworm. Yet Gemstar can be used in organic farming, resistance management programs and, because it is residue exempt, Brazilian growers can export their Gemstar-treated crop virtually anywhere in the world.”