EPA Approves Kalamazoo Startup’s Spider-Based Insecticide

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KALAMAZOO (WWJ) – Spiders have been doing a very efficient job of killing insects for millennia. 

Now, a Kalamazoo company has federal approval to borrow spiders’ natural chemistry as an insecticide.

Vestaron Corp. Thursday announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the active ingredient in the company’s “bioinsecticide” for commercial sale.

The insecticide, a naturally occurring peptide isolated from spiders, is approved for use on a wide variety of crops and has shown no toxicity to fish, birds or mammals, including humans.

“This is a game-changer for agriculture,” said Vestaron CEO John Sorenson. “Our bioinsecticide is safe for humans, safe for non-target animals and plants, and better for the environment.”

And, he said, “EPA registration marks a key milestone in bringing Vestaron’s technology to the market, following the successful scaling of production and the development of an effective oral formulation. The insecticide will be in pre-commercial demonstration trials in 2014, with a full commercial launch in early 2015.”

Added Vestaron chief scientific officer Robert Kennedy: “For years, scientists have argued that the most effective way to manage the development of resistance in insect pests is to combine separate active ingredients into a single insecticide. Our peptide uniquely provides novel and complex modes of action in one molecule — a real breakthrough.”

Sorenson said Vestaron is developing “many new, unique insect control products” out of this technology. Also, he said, “Vestaron is incorporating the gene for this peptide into a new generation of insect-resistant plants. We’re also synthesizing compounds that mimic the peptide’s action.”

Founded in 2005, Vestaron is a venture-funded start-up. More at http://www.vestaron.com.

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