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Tobacco – The New Green Pesticide

Researchers are looking for new uses of tobacco and one potential use they have found is that it will make an excellent green pesticide. Tobacco naturally contains nicotine that is toxic to a wide variety of insects.

“A green pesticide industry based on tobacco could provide additional income for farmers, and as well as a new eco-friendly pest control agent,” said Cedric Briens and colleagues.

They are developing a way to convert tobacco leaves into pesticides by using pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is a process where they heat tobacco leaves to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a vacuum. This will produce an unrefined substance called bio-oil.

Tobacco oil has been tested against a wide variety of insect pest, 11 different fungi and four bacteria. It has also been tested against the Colorado potato beetle which is a major agricultural pest that is increasingly resistant to current insecticides.

Test showed that all of the beetles were killed. They also found that it blocked the growth of two types of bacteria and one fungus. Even after they removed all of the nicotine, the oil remained a very effective pesticide.

Tobacco oil has the ability to block some, but not all of the microorganisms. This suggests that it may have additional value as a more selective pesticide than those products that are currently used.

Now, I want for you to think with me. Can you imagine the “Marlboro Man” riding up on his horse carrying a red and white bottle of Marlboro pesticide? Now, that will really be macho!!