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Biocontrol crop protection: an alternative to pesticides

By M2i Life Sciences | Christian Le Roux, Director of Public Affairs | 22nd November 2016 | Updated at 02:11

A Greener World

| Biocontrol crop protection, is defined by the rural code as methods of protection of plants and crops through the use of natural methods. Notably for certain insects which are responsible for the degradation of crops and the environment.


The French SME M2i Life Sciences is a French industrial group with expertise in the conception, formulation and production of complex molecules which are aimed at Biological crop protection. Today from the growth of this industry M2i produces and distributes its products all over the world to combat the spread of invasive pests which have a damaging effect on forests, gardens, food crops and public health.

Pheromones are substances which are naturally secreted by the insect’s which allows them to interact and communicate with their fellow species, mate or provide warnings signals.

By reproducing these pheromones using biomimicry in the laboratory and conception of innovative devices M2i can devise solutions which allow to effectively control these pests by attracting them and trapping them. Or by disrupting their mating patterns to prevent reproduction.

These solutions are defined in three ways; monitoring, mass trapping and mating disruption.

  • Monitoring

This method allows for supervision so that the population of a target pest insect can be detected and a timely intervention set in motion. It can also be used to measure treatment efficacy by verifying whether a pest is present or not on a plot of land. The pheromone attractant is placed in a trap positioned on the plot of land.


  • Mass Trapping

This use enables the mass trapping of a population of an invasive pest. The diffuser is placed in a trap. Traps are then laid out in large densities and based on a rigorous and exact plan in order to capture the targeted pest insect and prevent it damaging the crop or harvest and neutralising the infestation.

Example of pheromone diffuser being used for mass trapping
  • Mating Disruption

This third method does not use a trapping method. Its intention is to protect an extensive plot of land against a targeted pest. It consists of spraying an adequate and even amount of the targeted insect’s sexual pheromone over the plot. A proliferating supply of sexual pheromone will prevent the male insects from coupling with the females and thus preventing reproduction. By rendering pairing impossible, this method thus makes it possible to eliminate the pests from the plot of land.


For the mating disruption method, an even quantity of the pheromone are diffused and deposited directly on the plot.

Pheromones constitute a solutions which is efficient with proven efficacy which is ecological and guarantees the following;

  • Selectivity; specific pheromones are used for the corresponding pest meaning a targeted approach
  • No toxicity to the flora and fauna, operators or residents
  • The absence of residues in the soil and on the plants
  • The development of any resistance to the pheromone
  • A treatment which is adapted to a large number of pests which are present in public spaces (pine, chestnut, box tree, oak, palm and floral arrangements)

M2i has developed its own expertise in pheromones for the protection of plants and crops. M2i invents, produces and commercializes a new generation of natural products with the aim of replacing in an efficient and cost effective way traditional pesticides. M2i is integrated across the whole value chain from the synthesis of the active to the production and packaging of the finished product.

M2i holds eleven patents, and has at present a catalogue of over 50 reverences of innovative products with superior performances vs market reference in terms of duration of diffusion and efficacy. This is thanks to a technology of natural microencapsulation which is used in the formulation process that is also biodegradable.

After initially have focused its activities on the agricultural market and having become the European leader in the production of pheromones, M2i today proposes a portfolio which is also aimed at collectivities amateur gardeners and green spaces as part of its monitoring catalogue. These products have already gained considerable status among the major players in today’s crop protection market and in numerous well known communities in Europe and the world. For example the products of M2i are used in the town of Nice and Anglets, or the palm trees of the town of Tunis.

Awarded the 2016-2017 European Business Award Prize for the Environment by the European Commission, M2i in 2015 also received the Enterprise and Innovation Prize from the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Environment in the innovation category. M2i also won the RMC SME award for 2016.