June 4, 2018 at 12:08 pm
This non-toxic fungus-based insecticide kills over 200,000 pesky insects without harming bees
Credit: Stuart Isett
A all-natural mushroom-based insecticide could make bee-harming neonicotinoids and most other chemical pesticides
It’s not toxic to humans, pollinators, fish, birds or any other non-targeted animal.
This is great news in light of 700 species of American bees recently joining the endangered species list, the entire Gulf coast becoming a dead zone for sea life, and the bird population of Europe freefalling to a third of what it was a few decades ago.
There’s only one catch, it has to be approved by the EPA.
Mycologist Paul Stamets has developed the “most disruptive technology the pesticide industry has ever witnessed” simply by “training” mushrooms to sporulate later, after they’ve been eaten by pesky insects.
He patented two insecticides in 2006 — one for carpenter ants, fire ants and termites, and another for 200,000 other types of insects — using special mushrooms he developed.
Normally mushroom spores repel insects, but Stamets’ mushrooms attract the insects to eat them before they sporulate, and then sporulate and sprout inside of them, right through the insects’ bodies.
According to Stamets, after insects eat the fungi, they “become mummified” and a “mushroom pops out of their head.”
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“This is the most disruptive technology — I’ve been told by executives of the pesticide industry — that they have ever witnessed,” Stamets said in a Ted Talk. “It could totally revamp the pesticide industry.”
”It’s been called an Alexander Graham Bell patent.”
Stamets is also the founder of Fungi Perfecti, a company that offers mushroom products from all-natural insect repellent to mushroom tea to MycoGrow, a product that reduces the need for fertilizer and helps plants grow faster.
His patented non-GMO mushrooms have recently been approved by the USDA for use in food handling facilities, and found by the agency to be not harmful to bees, fish, pollinators, non-targeted insect species or humans.
The only remaining obstacle between the pesticide that could “save the world” and the market is the EPA. And because the mushrooms stand to put so many pesticide companies out of business, that approval could be a long time coming.