Katia Moskvitch at the BBC tells us about biological control, also known as biocontrol. She says, ‘Biocontrol is an area of biotechnology that involves moving away from toxic chemicals, either by mass-producing a pest’s natural enemy or by introducing an exotic species to attack the pest.’
What an appealing idea. If people, crops, livestock, wildlife or wild plants are plagued by a pest or a pathogen (a disease-causing organism), introduce a living organism to kill the pest or pathogen. Sometimes it’s wonderful but sometimes it goes horribly wrong.
You might want to follow my link (above) to Dr Moskvitch’s article. She tells us of great successes, great disasters, and great hopes.
Hopes for biological control include a possible strategy for ‘vaccinating’ ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) against the dreaded ash dieback disease by injecting fungi to live inside the tree and attack the dieback fungus (Chalara fraxinea). That idea is just an idea, at this stage, but it’s being proposed as a new research topic at the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI). If tree vaccination can be made to work it might save ash trees from devastation.