Dr. Deborah Henderson and her colleagues won a $100,000 prize for their work on an environmentally friendly pesticide. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Dr. Deborah Henderson and her colleagues won a $100,000 prize for their work on an environmentally friendly pesticide. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

KPU reseachers win $100K award for green pesticide

The biological solution avoids using chemical pesticides

Work to create a natural pesticide has won a $100,000 award for a team of Kwantlen Polytechnic University Researchers working out of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture.

The Synergy Award for Innovation, from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, will help the institute buy new equipment and forge partnerships.

Dr. Deborah Henderson and Michelle Franklin were the KPU researchers involved, working with industry partner Sylvar Technologies to create baculovirus biopesticides. The biological pesticides are non-toxic.

“Our mantra at the institute is ‘putting more biological products in the hands of growers and landscape managers’,” said Dr. Henderson, director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture. “When you have those biological tools available, then you can start to figure out how to use them. But if you don’t have them available, and all you have is chemicals, then all you’re going to use is chemicals.”

Sylvar and the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture have commercialized Loopex FC, a biopesticide that targets larvae on cabbage and alfalfa crops, and they are hoping to develop or produce a larger portfolio of biopesticides for commercial use.

“If you’ve ever eaten coleslaw, you’ve eaten millions of baculoviruses,” Henderson said. “They’re in your diet, they’re in your environment, and they’re not harmful.”

“New products will diversify our company and allow it to expand into new markets in Canada,” says Laura Forbes, international business and regulatory affairs manager at Sylvar Technologies.

“Currently we see high demand for effective biocontrol and bio-stimulant products in the agriculture and landscape sectors and we anticipate highly positive benefits from this project for our company, for sustainable agriculture in Canada, and for the environment.”

Founded in 2005, the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture is dedicated to developing biological products for commercial use. Earlier work to create a fungi-based pesticide received almost $200,000 in funding from the Government of Canada.

AgricultureKwantlen Polytechnic UniversityLangleyScience