Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
How plants can rid themselves of residues


October 7, 2009
By Marg Land


Topics

October 7, 2009 —
Scientists in China have discovered that a natural plant hormone, applied to
crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain pesticides.



October 7, 2009 —
Scientists in China have discovered that a natural plant hormone, applied to
crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain pesticides.

The study is in the
current issue of American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry
, a bi-weekly publication.

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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.

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.