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New biocontrol for cabbage loopers

The farm gate value of Canada's greenhouse vegetable production in 2016 was over $1.3 billion. One of the threats to the industry is the cabbage looper, a pest that can cause significant crop losses to a wide variety of plants. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientists worked with colleagues at the University of British Columbia to isolate an insect-specific virus that has high potential to control the cabbage looper.

Insect-specific viruses are safe and effective biological control agents for specific insect pests, including the cabbage looper. They are also one of the potential alternatives to chemical control of pests. Having viable alternatives to chemical pest control helps the greenhouse industry in Canada respond to consumer demand for high quality produce using little or no pesticides.

In collaboration with industry partners, AAFC scientists generated genetic and biological data packages as well as initial greenhouse application trial data to confirm the efficacy of this virus to control cabbage looper infestations. The background research done by AAFC scientists was instrumental in obtaining Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration of one virus species for the control of cabbage looper larvae in greenhouse vegetable production systems.

Sylvar Technologies Inc., a Canadian subsidiary of Andermatt Biocontrol, and AAFC's Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization have negotiated a license agreement for the commercialization of the AAFC technology. The new microbial pesticide is now registered under the tradename Loopex and gives greenhouse producers an additional non-chemical pest control product for cabbage looper infestations.

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