Monday, August 17, 2009

Killer Spices


Aug. 17, 2009 -- The next generation of pesticides might smell as sweet as rosemary, cinnamon and thyme.

These spices, among others, are proving to be potent insect-fighters that are gentle on the environment and safe for humans, said entomologist Murray Isman, of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Speaking yesterday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., Isman said that insects are also less likely to develop resistance to spice extracts than conventional chemicals.

The concept is not new: For centuries, people have been using oil extracts from pungent plants to protect their food. Now, scientists are finally figuring out how these essential oils get their pest-battling powers and how people might better harness them.

"There was some magic in how nature has gone about doing this," Isman said. "Our research is trying to figure out which essential oils work best for which applications."

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