EU funded

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The RAFBCA project was funded by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme, Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources Programme (QoL), Key Action 1 - Food, Nutrition and Health, (Contract noQLK1-CT-2001-01391).

Ten partners from nine counties cooperated in this project from November 2001 to October 2004. They generated data that could help address key registration questions for biological control agents (BCAs). The overall aim of this unique project was to establish if metabolites produced by fungal BCAs entered the food chain and if they posed a risk to human and animal health.

Identification and Detection of Metabolites

The RAFBCA team has identified efficacious strains of mycoinsecticides (Beauveria brongniartiiMetarhizium anisopliaeVerticillium lecanii), mycofungicides (Gliocladium spp., Trichoderma harzianum), and a mycoherbicide (Stagonospora convolvuli) and the major metabolites secreted by these fungi (oosporein, destruxins, gliotoxin, peptaibols, elsinochrome A). They have generated data that provide a better understanding of the type and quantity of the selected major metabolites as well as their distribution and regulation.

All the partners have been involved in field and glasshouse trials under commercial/semi-commercial conditions to determine the fate of fungal BCAs and their metabolites in the food chain (eg. lettuce, cucumber, tomato, potato, maize) and plant growing media. They have shown that BCA metabolites do not enter the food chain or pose a risk to consumer and animal health, nor pose environmental problems.

Benefits to SMEs, Consumers and Growers

RAFBCA have shown that the selected fungal BCAs do not pose a risk to human and animal health and the environment. This strengthens the argument for their use as safe alternatives to chemical pesticides. They could be used as part of integrated crop protection programmes, which reduce or eliminate the use of harmful chemicals. This should encourage commercial development of fungal BCAs and ultimately result in wealth and job creation as demand for these products increases.