Oxitec Completes Successful Season of Friendly™ Fall Armyworm Deployments on Large, Commercial-Scale Farms in Two Corn-growing Regions in Brazil

Two cornfields in Brazil have successfully completed the second large-scale pilot of Oxitec's Friendly™ fall armyworm as a sustainable crop protection solution, following full commercial biosafety approval from Brazilian regulators in 2021. (PRNewsfoto/Oxitec Ltd)

  • Season-long releases of Friendly™ fall armyworm were completed on commercial farms in two of Brazil’s most important corn growing states, São Paulo and Mato Grosso.
  • These pilots, on thousands of acres of commercial biotech corn, provided further validation of the Friendly™ fall armyworm’s performance as a sustainable crop protection solution.
  • Releases of Friendly™ fall armyworm can lead to targeted reduction of a major global pest of corn, and can also protect the durability of biotech crops against the threat of fall armyworm resistance.

CAMPINAS, Brazil and OXFORD, England, July 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Oxitec Ltd, a leading developer of biological pest control solutions, announces the successful completion of the second large-scale pilot season of the Friendly™ fall armyworm. Following full commercial biosafety approval from Brazilian regulators in 2021, these two pilot seasons have enabled large-scale testing and validation of product operations and performance in commercial farm settings in two of Brazil’s major corn-growing regions. 

In this most recent pilot season, deployments of the Friendly™ fall armyworm were conducted in commercial corn fields in São Paulo state, in partnership with Lagoa Bonita Sementes, and in Brazil’s most important corn-growing state, Mato Grosso, in partnership with Fundação MT.

These operational pilot deployments move the Friendly™ fall armyworm solution closer towards commercialization in Brazil. Male Friendly™ fall armyworms were released across this recent corn-growing season over thousands of acres in commercial corn fields, enabling the product team to validate the effectiveness of the technology, validate per-product treatment areas and dosing, solidify distribution and shipping routes, and ramp up manufacturing.

The fall armyworm is a corn-destroying caterpillar that rapidly develops resistance to biotech corn varieties designed to control caterpillars. New biological solutions are urgently needed for more sustainable crop protection. In recent years, fall armyworm has spread beyond the Americas, and now imposes an economic burden of billions of dollars across Africa, Asia and Oceania. As described in a recent mathematical modelling study, releases of Oxitec’s male Friendly™ fall armyworm can provide a highly effective pest suppression tool, and can also delay the spread of resistance to biotech corn to prolong the effectiveness of these important crop protection tools for the long term.

For Grey Frandsen, Oxitec’s CEO, “This second season of farm-scale pilots is a major step towards delivering a transformative pest management tool to Brazilian farmers, with the potential to put sustainability at the heart of corn production in this world-leading agricultural economy. Farmers are excited about our technology and about the benefits we offer to growers’ livelihoods and the environment, especially in the face of climate change, growing challenges for biotech crops, and the absence of other effective tools. We’re working at pace to get this product ready for scale-up, and this set of successful pilots at a commercial scale is a major step forward.”

Natalia Ferreira, Oxitec do Brasil’s Country Director, says “These large-scale pilots in two of Brazil’s centres of corn production have enabled us to validate our solution in real farm settings, under different climatic conditions and with farmers’ growing practices. It has been immensely satisfying to conduct these farm pilots with expert partners such as Lagoa Bonita Sementes and Fundação MT, who – like Oxitec – are committed to delivering positive impact to Brazilian farmers and consumers using a shared commitment to integrity and collaboration. We look forward to expanding these partnerships as we scale towards commercial implementation of this biological solution that is so sorely needed.”

Ricardo Batista, an agronomist in innovative projects at Lagoa Bonita Sementes, explains, “We support research in innovative agriculture. In Oxitec’s case, the Friendly™ fall armyworm is an exciting new biological technology with the potential to deliver transformative value to Brazilian agriculture.”

Bruno Conti, Fundação MT’s Head of R&D, said that “We are pleased to report another successful pilot season of the Friendly™ fall armyworm through the partnership between Oxitec and Fundação Mato Grosso. As an organization with a mission to provide technical, impartial and reliable information to inform growers’ decision-making, we’re glad to be at Oxitec’s side achieving another milestone on the path to delivering large-scale impact for growers in our region.”

Read more about the predicted benefits of the Friendly™ fall armyworm in this recent publication: Link

About Oxitec

Oxitec is the leading developer of biological solutions to control pests that transmit disease, destroy crops and harm livestock. Founded in 2002 at the University of Oxford, Oxitec is led by a passionate team comprised of 15 nationalities and is supported by world-class public, private and non-profit partners.

Learn more at oxitec.com

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SOURCE Oxitec Ltd

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