Washington, May 22 : A new study from National Polytechnic in Algeria has found that Oregano oil can be as effective as synthetic insecticides to combat infestation by a common beetle found in stored cereals.
Oregano, a member of the Lamiaceae family of plants, has long been renowned as a natural insecticide. It apparently works by inhibiting egg laying and larval development but this is the first time it has been looked at as a viable alternative for synthetic insecticides.
A team of researchers led by Dr Chahrazed Boutekedjiret identified 18 components in oregano oil that combat pests and found that the greater the concentration of the oil used, the more effective it was.
"It is feasible that, in the near future, these natural insecticides will replace synthetic insecticides and add considerably to more environmentally friendly insecticides on a large scale," said Boutekedjiret.
"Just because something is natural does not mean it is harmless to humans - some of the most toxic compounds lethal to humans and other mammals are natural products," said Dr Alan Baylis, the honorary secretary of the Society of Chemical Industry's Bioresources Group
"However, there will be markets for natural insecticides which have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy, but as they are difficult to produce on a large scale for agricultural use, then the scope for them is rather limited," he added.
With the growing resistance to synthetic insecticides combined with potential environmental damage and new government directives on changes to the way chemicals are registered means that scientists are increasingly looking at natural alternatives.
The study appears in the Society of Chemical Industry's Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.