Fruits and Vegetables

Pest Control with Spinosyns Begins in Nature

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The spinosyn portfolio from Corteva Agriscience protects fruits and vegetables around the world from insect pests. It began with Qalcova™ active (spinosad) over 25 years ago. Building on this success, Jemvelva™ active (spinetoram) was introduced a few years later, improving upon the benefits of Qalcova to give farmers an option that works faster, protects crops longer and works against more pest species, all at a lower use rate.

Although these two active ingredients have some differences, both can trace their foundations to a discovery in the natural world. It’s that connection to nature that has made them especially effective and useful.

Here are four important ways natural and naturally derived* crop protection active ingredients like these make a difference for farmers, consumers and our planet.

1. Effective for farmers and a favorable environmental profile
Both Qalcova™ active (spinosad) and Jemvelva™ active (spinetoram) are made from fermenting a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Saccharopolyspora spinosa. Scientists discovered that this bacterium has special activity against harmful insects that consume valuable crops, especially fruits and vegetables. Starting from a naturally occurring substance like this has several environmental advantages. First, both active ingredients are very effective at low use rates (the amount needed to control pests). That means farmers don’t have to apply as much to protect their crops. These two active ingredients also work rapidly, which allows farmers to wait to apply the product until they are sure pests pose an economic threat to their crops. This is one of the foundations of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). If pest pressures are below the economic threshold level, there’s no need to use products containing Qalcova or Jemvelva preventively. Both active ingredients degrade rapidly in soil and water. Both were also registered under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Reduced Risk program.


2. Low risk to beneficial organisms
In addition to using crop protection products, farmers also rely on a healthy population of natural predators to reduce pest populations. These beneficial species may even allow farmers to apply crop protection products less frequently. Qalcova™ active (spinosad) and Jemvelva™ active (spinetoram) are targeted insecticides, designed to affect only specific, harmful pest species with minimal impact on non-target organisms, including predators like lady beetles and lacewings. Once dry, these active ingredients pose virtually no threat to pollinators, including honey bees. Qalcova and Jemvelva also have a favorable profile for mammals—that includes people. This allows for a short re-entry period, meaning workers only need to wait a brief time (which can be as short as 4 hours depending on the crop) before coming back into treated fields.

3. Manufactured using the natural process of fermentation
For millennia, human beings have been harnessing the power of microbes to create food, drinks, medicines and more through fermentation. Qalcova™ active (spinosad) and Jemvelva™ active (spinetoram) are manufactured using this ancient process—in state-of-the-art facilities. Unlike other fermentation manufacturing processes that rely on petroleum-based solvents, Qalcova and Jemvelva are manufactured using water and plant-based ingredients, including sugar. It sounds simple, but the science is incredibly complex. It took researchers years to get this proprietary process just right for producing these active ingredients in a way that ensures they are both effective and environmentally favorable. The process is so notable that in 2021, the National Association of Manufacturers (U.S.) recognized Jemvelva with a Manufacturing Leadership Award for operational excellence. Both active ingredients have also received numerous awards including EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, which recognize products with reduced environmental impacts.

4. Compatible with organic production
Organic production requires the control of pests, just as conventional farming does. Qalcova™ active (spinosad), which is approved for organic farming use in many parts of the world, has provided an essential tool for organic farmers to maintain crop quality. Today Qalcova is the world’s #1 organic insecticide. By enabling more and better organic production, Qalcova is part of ensuring consumers have more choices on their store shelves.

Crop protection products rooted in nature may feel like a new idea, but it’s actually what scientists have been pursuing since the 1950s. These forward-looking researchers knew that harnessing nature to protect nature had the potential to change the future of crop protection. The success of Qalcova and Jemvelva proves that nature can be the origin for crop protection products that get the job done for farmers and care for environment. As these active ingredients continue to serve farmers around the world, they’re also a continuing source of inspiration, for many effective and environmentally favorable solutions to come.

Learn more about Qalcova and Jemvelva

*What do we mean by natural and naturally derived? Qalcova™ active (spinosad) is made from the natural metabolites of a soil bacterium. Jemvelva™ active (spinetoram) begins with this same naturally occurring substance, but the natural metabolites are changed through specific chemical processes to provide different characteristics, such as longer-lasting activity. This is why we say Jemvelva is naturally derived.