Advantages of Postharvest Biocontrol

Biocontrol agents have the following advantages:

1. Complex mode of action: low chance for resistance development. Biocontrol agents work in complex ways, rather than having a single site of action as for some chemical pesticides. For example, a biocontrol agent may act via antagonism and antibiosis (production of multiple compounds by the organism). If used in a program with chemical pesticides as tank mixes, biocontrol agents could delay development of resistance to chemical products, which has been documented and can be a problem in commercial production [39,40].

2. Reduction or elimination of chemical residues. The production of fruit and vegetables is now a global enterprise, and products are shipped around the world for export markets. As such, chemical residues are a consumer concern as well as nontariff trade barriers. Products can be rejected due to the presence of residues of specific chemical products not allowed in importing countries or because residue levels exceed limits allowed by importing countries and companies [41]. In addition, the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 requires that the registration and use of a product take into account the amount of pesticide residue that occurs in foods eaten frequently by children. If a product is also used preharvest, the "risk cup'' (total amount of allowable residues on all crops) from postharvest use may result in restrictions of quantity and frequency of applications for preharvest use. This may not be economically feasible to companies who make more money on preharvest markets. Biocontrol agents are exempt from residue tolerances and thus not subject to international rules regulating chemical residues.

3. Safety to workers and the environment. Worker safety is a significant worldwide concern. Postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables may result in worker exposure to chemical residues of products that are carcinogens or acutely toxic. For example, certain governments in Central America have strongly encouraged banana producers to reduce the use of chemicals due to worker exposure [42]. Use of biocontrol agents will reduce the worker exposure to these toxic chemicals. Waste chemicals from fruit dipping operations are an environmental issue. Biocontrol agents are biodegradable, leave no chemical residues, and do not pollute the environment and ground water.

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