Nov 9, 2021
2021 Crop Science Awards recognizes SPEAR-Lep

The Crop Science Forum & Awards 2021 recognizes excellence in the crop protection and production markets. The year 2021 marks the 14th installment of the annual event and this year Vestaron was awarded Best New Biological Product (Biopesticide) for SPEAR-Lep, the first novel nerve and muscular mode of action introduced since 2007.

The Best New Biological Product (Biopesticide) award recognizes the best new crop protection product derived from a naturally occurring organism. SPEAR-Lep is Vestaron’s revolutionary bioinsecticide for tree nuts, fruits, vegetables and other high-value field and orchard crops. Targeting lepidopteran pests such as loopers, worms and caterpillars, SPEAR-Lep’s performance in field trials is equal or superior to conventional insecticides. With no known resistance or cross-resistance, SPEAR-Lep works as a standalone, or in rotation with conventional insecticides as an excellent IPM and resistance management tool.

“Vestaron’s scientists are the first to pioneer this game-changing new strategy for crop protection,” CEO Anna Rath said in a news release. “We are honored that SPEAR-Lep has been recognized for the innovative product it is and the revolution it has ignited.”

The SPEAR technology is based on cysteine-rich peptides, basically small proteins that are highly stable because of the strong bonds that the cysteine amino acids form. With the precision and thoroughness of Vestaron’s peptide-optimization techniques, the benefits of small molecules and large proteins are brought together to yield insecticides that are highly effective, safe for workers and beneficial insects and environmentally benign.

These peptides are more stable than large proteins for better fit with existing agronomic practice, but as with any protein they readily break down into nutritive amino acids rather than harmful metabolites once they are exposed to microbes in the soil. SPEAR’s peptide active ingredient is broadly insecticidal and, with its novel nerve and muscular mode of action, proving to be a solution to resistance challenges faced by traditional synthetics.

“Everything novel about the Spear family of insecticides – efficacy on par or better than synthetics, a four-hour worker re-entry interval, a zero-day pre-harvest interval, no regulated residues and the ability to spray when pollinators are in the field – is why these products are really a game-changer for agriculture.  Within a few years, Vestaron expects to provide a broad portfolio of peptide-based insecticides, enabling growers to use fully peptide-based IPM strategies,” Rath concludes.

Vestaron is a company dedicated to improving the safety, efficacy, and sustainability of crop protection through migration from synthetic pesticides to peptide-based biopesticides.  Vestaron is initially focused on a class of peptides that kill insect pests efficiently, but are practically safe for humans, beneficial insects, and the environment. As part of this, the company has developed an empowered proprietary platform for peptide optimization, fermentation-based peptide production and in planta expression that will allow it to develop a wide variety of biologic crop protection and trait solutions.

Vestaron was named a Global Cleantech top 100 in 2019 and 2020, is the winner of the inaugural 2015 Bernard Blum Award, the 2019 EPA Green Chemistry award for novel biocontrol solutions.


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