Shipping augmentative biocontrol agents


E. Vila, F. Wäckers & J. Klapwijk

The majority of worldwide trading in live arthropods is done by specialized companies that produce and distribute beneficial insects, mites and nematodes for augmentative biological control of pests on crops. These beneficial arthropods, predators or parasitoids of crop pests and some nuisance species, that are harmless to humans, plants and other animals, are mass-reared, transported and released in the target environment as a viable alternative to chemical pesticides. As such, they play a major role in achieving a more sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Thousands of international air shipments are performed yearly by up to 30 major companies. Over the decades that this industry has been active, no significant transport problems have arisen. This is due to stringent standards that the industry has generated, including designated departments to deal with quality control and logistics, as well as guides for each species concerning packaging, storage, and transport conditions. In addition, transporters always adhere to the regulatory standards of the importing and exporting countries, which is attested by the documents included by the companies with each shipment. Two major issues arise when shipping live arthropods: firstly, the need to maintain stable environmental conditions within the shipping units (maintaining a cool chain) and secondly to minimize transport time (prevent delays). This paper discusses the procedures implemented by the companies to assure quality, the documents required and provided currently, and the challenges to the safe transportation of beneficial organisms.

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