Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Efficacy and consistency of disease control have been major stumbling blocks to the wide-spread acceptance and use of biological control (BC) of plant diseases. Various approaches have been developed to counteract these shortcomings, and in many instances, the robustness of BC systems has been improved to the point that an increasing number of microbial biological control agents (MBCA) have been commercialized, with many more ready for commercial use pending their registration. The slow and costly registration process delays and often prohibits registration of MBCAs. The cost of development and production of MBCAs is passed to the grower in the form of a high price of the BC product. The grower must pass this cost and the offset of possible reduced efficacy to the consumer. Consumer concerns over chemical pesticide residues have been the main incentive for purchasing pesticide-free produce, which often carry a hefty price tag. The cost, acceptable efficacy and the use of BC are linked together. The acceptable efficacy of BC products is dependent on many factors, including the availability of the alternative control measures, value of the crop, production system, ability to combine the BC product with other non-chemical alternatives, return on investment, governmental regulations, and involvement of the government in running BC programs. Many limitations of BC can be addressed by improving the robustness and efficacy to fit individual BC systems. The overarching measure of the acceptable BC performance is the price that market is willing to tolerate. Consequently, reducing the cost of development, production, and implementation remains the major challenge for the greater use of the biological control.