May 8, 2024
Vestaron’s bioinsecticide obtains approval in Italy

Italy has become the second country in the European Union to grant farmers emergency access to Vestaron’s bioinsecticide SPEAR LEP to tackle infestations of tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) — a pest that has been known to cause significant and costly yield losses in Europe.

The Italian Ministry of Health granted emergency use authorization for SPEAR LEP, Vestaron’s peptide-based insecticide. Available for growers in Italy to use on tomatoes from March 28 to July 25, SPEAR LEP is a biological product that targets lepidopteran pests such as tomato leafminer, navel orangeworm, European grapevine moth, codling moth, loopers and caterpillars, according to a news release.

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The Ministry of Health stated that SPEAR LEP is appropriate for use in integrated pest management programs due to its novel and unique mode of action and offers low toxicity to mammals and other vertebrates, as well as beneficial insects and pollinators, including bees. An emergency use authorization for SPEAR LEP was granted by the Greek Ministry of Agriculture for use on tomato crops in February 2024.

“Farmers in Italy and Greece will now have access to a much-needed new mode of action to help them continue producing the food our growing society requires. We have submitted applications to the European Commission for full approval in Europe as farmers face universal challenges such as insect resistance to traditional products, the increasing restriction of chemical pesticides, and consumer demand for healthy, nutritious food delivered at a reasonable price,” said Juan Estupinan, interim CEO and president for Vestaron. “Vestaron’s peptide-based bioinsecticides are revolutionizing crop protection delivering both high efficacy and enhanced environmental benefits.”

In experimental studies conducted in Italy and other European countries, SPEAR LEP has demonstrated efficacy against the target pest under both open-field and protected conditions, including in populations that may be resistant to other commonly used insecticides, according to the release.

Italian grower group Società Cooperativa Agricola Aurora, which petitioned the Italian Ministry of Health for the emergency authorization, said it was delighted that the temporary authorization had been granted, giving its members the chance to effectively and sustainably control costly tomato leafminer infestations.

“Having access to effective biocontrols like SPEAR LEP is vital to helping producers reduce pesticide use — supporting profitable production while lowering farming’s impact on the environment,” Giuseppe Buggea, Aurora’s president, said in the release.

SPEAR LEP has been in use in the U.S. since 2020, with subsequent approvals in Mexico and Canada, and it has been submitted to the European Commission for full approval in Europe. Based on naturally occurring peptides found in spider venom and produced using natural fermentation, SPEAR LEP has a unique mode of action (IRAC group 32) with no known resistance or cross-resistance with other synthetic pesticides, while presenting minimal risk to people, pollinators and beneficials as determined by USA EPA and Canadian PMRA regulatory approvals.

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