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Getting plants to rid themselves of residues

September 18, 2009  ByMarg Land


September 17, 2009 —
Scientists in China are reporting the “intriguing” discovery that a natural
plant hormone, applied to crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain
pesticides.



September 17, 2009 —
Scientists in China are reporting the “intriguing” discovery that a natural
plant hormone, applied to crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain
pesticides.

Jing Quan Yu and colleagues
note that pesticides are essential for sustaining food production for the
world’s growing population. Farmers worldwide use about 2.5 million tons of
pesticides each year. Scientists have been seeking new ways of minimizing
pesticide residues that remain in food crops after harvest — with little
success. Previous research suggested that plant hormones called
brassinosteroids (BRs) might be an answer to the problem.

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The scientists treated
cucumber plants with one type of BR then treated the plants with various
pesticides, including chloropyrifos (CPF), a broad-spectrum commercial
insecticide. BR significantly reduced their toxicity and residues in the
plants, they say. BRs may be “promising, environmentally friendly, natural
substances suitable for wide application to reduce the risks of human and
environmental exposure to pesticides,” the scientists note. The substances do
not appear to be harmful to people or other animals, they add.

The research was recently
published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


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