Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 03/12/2013


Israeli Farmers Innovate Using Bugs To Protect Crops

bugAbout a decade ago, Bio Bee Biological Systems, which operates out of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, started to mass produce insects with the select purpose of using them to kill off agricultural pests. According to the company website, “In the field of biological control, Bio-Bee’s products serve both conventional and bio-organic agriculture, and constitute an indispensable component in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which aims at reducing the use of harsh chemical pesticides that endanger both man and environment.

In 1962, the famous marine biologist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which exposed how detrimental it is to utilize the pesticide DDT. However, decades after Rachel Carson exposed the adverse health and environmental consequences of using pesticides; much of the world still uses pesticides in agriculture. This continues despite the fact that a 2007 study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Health discovered a six fold increase in autism spectrum disorders for children of women who were exposed to organochlorine pesticides, while studies by the National Cancer Institute found that many American farmers were diagnosed with cancer due to pesticide exposure.


Pirate bug

Israeli farmers in the Arava Valley have turned away from pesticides and have begun to utilize Bio-Bee’s integrated pest management strategy which reduces pesticide usage by 80 percent. Indeed, nearly every one of the 120 farmers in the Arava Valley utilizes pirate bugs as an environmentally friendly pest control, which has resulted in allowing Israeli farmers to move away from pesticide usage. Integrated Pest Management is at the forefront of modern agriculture and offers an effective solution to the problems of chemical pest control such as chemical residues in agricultural produce and the development of pesticide resistance by pests.” Pirate bugs are predatory insects that feed on smaller pests, including thrips, scale, mites, leafhoppers, whiteflies, aphids, and the eggs and larvae of these insects, which are common pests to plants. As Rameh Sadeh, a farmer in the Arava Valley, asserted, “We usually use natural enemies to eat insects that cause damage, and if we do spray it’s only on a small scale for the one or two plants with high infestation. It costs us more money per dunam, but we can sleep well knowing we are not using chemicals.”

peppersSince it was founded, the products of Bio Bee Biological Systems have expanded to be utilized in many countries, from North America to Europe to South America to the Far East. According to Sadeh, “It took farmers time to see that this technique works and they can rely on it. I started using it immediately because I knew it works. For me and for my children it’s safer, and of course for the consumer.” Yet, once Israeli farmers saw that it worked, they utilized it extensively.

from an article by Rachel Avraham


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