BioBee breeds bees that pollinate crops to protect produce. (Photo: Antony/Flickr)

BioBee puts bugs to work for your produce

Company devises a way to reduce chemical pesticides in farming.

If you believe that you are what you eat, then you’re probably not keen on consuming fruits and vegetables grown using chemical pesticides – and you’re not alone. The rising trend toward buying organic produce can be felt every time you wait on a long line at Whole Foods or meander through farmers markets – many of which, due to popular demand, are popping up on college campuses. MarketLine predicted a nearly 50 percent growth in organic foods in America between now and 2015.

farmers market Farmers markets are becoming more popular, especially on college campuses. (Photo: Corey Templeton/Flickr)

One innovative Israeli company, BioBee Biological Systems, has come up with a way to make the increase in organic produce possible. Instead of using toxins, BioBee breeds bugs that kill off the pests that damage crops. This is not only a win for consumers, but also for the men and women working in the fields who need to don gas masks when they spray synthetic agents. There’s also the concern that pests will become resistant to chemicals over time, which is why it’s vital that BioBee continues to help wean farmers off harmful substances.

“Chemicals not only kill micro-life that is healthy for the soil and the environment, but they also harm humans who eventually consume food grown with them,” says Dr. Elaine Solowey, Director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, located at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel.

Dr. Shimon Steinberg of BioBee explains, “The idea is to undo the damage of chemical pest control and encourage what nature intended…we need to give nature a chance.”

In addition to mites that control pests on plants, BioBee also breeds bumblebees that pollinate crops as well as sterilized Mediterranean fruit flies that reduce the reproductive rate of their own species so that they can’t terrorize trees.

BioBee exports biological control agents to over 50 countries, from Japan to Chile. In the U.S., 60 percent of strawberries grown in California have been treated with BioBee’s nontoxic little critters, so the next time you bite into a juicy berry born in the Golden State, you can feel good about what you’re ingesting – even if there is a tiny, orange mite on it.

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