UK – Oxitec, a UK-based biotechnology company, has efficaciously concluded the second large-scale pilot season of its Friendly fall armyworm technology, an environmentally safe and sustainable way to manage fall armyworm and other harmful pests, in Brazil.

“We are pleased to report another successful pilot season of the Friendly fall armyworm through the partnership between Oxitec and Fundação Mato Grosso.

“As an organization with a mission to provide technical, impartial and reliable information to inform growers’ decision-making, we’re glad to be at Oxitec’s side achieving another milestone on the path to delivering large-scale impact for growers in our region,” Bruno Conti, Fundação MT’s Head of R&D.

In 2021, Brazilian regulators issued a complete commercial biosafety approval. This has since enabled the farm to carry out two pilot seasons which have resulted in large-scale testing and the validation of performance in commercial farm settings, in two of Brazil’s major corn-growing regions.

During the pilot season, deployments of the Friendly fall armyworm were conducted in commercial corn fields in São Paulo state, in partnership with Lagoa Bonita Sementes, and in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s most important corn-growing state, in partnership with Fundação MT, moving the Friendly fall armyworm solution closer towards commercialization in Brazil.

These operational pilot deployments move the Friendly fall armyworm solution closer towards commercialization in Brazil.

Male Friendly fall armyworms were released across this recent corn-growing season over thousands of acres in commercial corn fields.

As such it enabled the product team to validate the effectiveness of the technology, validate per-product treatment areas and dosing, solidify distribution and shipping routes, and ramp up manufacturing.

The fall armyworm is a corn-destroying caterpillar that rapidly develops resistance to biotech corn varieties designed to control caterpillars, thus prompting the need for biological solutions for more sustainable crop protection.

In recent years, fall armyworm has spread beyond the Americas, and now imposes an economic burden of billions of dollars across Africa, Asia and Oceania.

As described in a recent mathematical modelling study, releases of Oxitec’s male Friendly fall armyworm can provide a highly effective pest suppression tool, and can also delay the spread of resistance to biotech corn to prolong the effectiveness of these important crop protection tools for the long term.

Ricardo Batista, an agronomist at Lagoa Bonita Sementes, explained that the Friendly fall armyworm is an exciting new biological technology with the potential to deliver transformative value to Brazilian agriculture.

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