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A biological pesticide is a biotechnical organism that can be either a biocidal product or a plant protection product. Biological control often includes natural enemies to the pest organisms to be controlled. Natural enemies can be micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi or macro-organisms such as nematodes, insects or arachnids.

Biotechnical organisms

Biotechnical organisms are products that consist of or contain living organisms and that are produced with the intention to be a pesticide or other technical purpose. Some biotechnical organisms can be genetically modified, so called GMOs. Different legislations apply depending on if the biotechnical organisms consist of micro- or macro-organisms.

Biological pesticides containing micro-organisms

Biological pesticides containing micro-organisms must, similarly to chemical pesticides, be authorised by the Swedish Chemicals Agency before they can be used or sold. A biological pesticide product is not authorised unless it is acceptable from a health and environmental point of view.

Plant protection products containing microorganisms are regulated in the EU Plant Protection Products Regulation. Such products must be labelled according to the Plant Protection Products Regulation and the EU Labelling Regulation for Plant Protection Products.

Biological products containing microorganisms are regulated in the EU Biocidal Products Regulation or in the Swedish Pesticide Ordinance. Products regulated by the Swedish ordinance shall be labelled according to Annex 2 to the Swedish Chemicals Agency Regulations KIFS 2008:3.

Micro-organisms that are genetically modified also apply to the legislation for genetically modified organisms, GMOs.

Read more about the legislation for genetically modified organisms, GMOs.

Biological pesticides consisting of macro-organisms

Biological pesticides consisting of nematodes, insects or arachnids need not a product authorisation but the biological organisms must be approved for use in pesticides. Since 1st of July 2016 the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for evaluation and approval of biological organisms used as pesticides. Authorisations of products already decided by the Swedish Chemicals Agency before 1st of June 2016 will continue to be valid until they expire.

Read more about approval of nematodes, insects or arachnids on the website of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (in Swedish).

If a biological pesticide consist of nematodes, insects or arachnids that are genetically modified, GMOs, certain legislation apply and the evaluation is made by the Swedish Chemicals Agency.

Read more about the legislation for genetically modified organisms, GMOs.

Use of biological pesticides

The interest to use biological pesticides has increased. Biological pesticides are mainly used in greenhouses but also in outdoor cultivation. Microorganisms are for instance used for seed dressing and to control mosquito larvae. Biological control is an important part in integrated plant protection, which is a combination of different measures against pests. Some biological pesticides are use preventively, other for curative treatment.

Organisms used for biological control usually stay alive as long as the target organisms are there. When the biological pest control organisms die, they degrade rapidly in the environment. The pest organisms that are controlled can not easily build up resistance since the effect mechanisms may be complicated. A biological product is often more specific than a chemical, which reduces the risk of harm to other organisms than those to be controlled.

How biological pesticides may be used

Authorised biological pesticides containing nematodes, insects or arachnids may not have harmful effects on ecosystems outside the area where they are used. Therefore, nematodes, insects or arachnids used for biological control must be either naturally occurring in the Swedish environment or lack the ability to establish here.

Nematodes, insects or arachnids are often allowed to be used by everyone. Many microorganisms are only allowed for professional use. These have often safety precautions to be followed in connection with handling the product, to protect health and the environment.

Biological pesticides rules

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 on Plant Protection Products. 

Regulation (EC) No 528/2012 on Biocidal Products.

Pesticides Ordinance (2014:425).

Commission Regulation (EU) No 547/2011.

The Swedish Chemical Agency’s Pesticides Regulations (KIFS 2008:3).

Pesticides Containing Nematodes, Insects and Arachnids Ordinance (2016:402) (in Swedish).

Biocidal Products Containing Nematodes, Insects and Arachnids Ordinance (2000:338).
Repealed but still applicable for products authorised before 1 of July, 2016.

Plant Protection Products Containing Nematodes, Insects or Arachnids Ordinance (2006:1010).
Repealed but still applicable for products authorised before 1 of July, 2016.