It is estimated that up to 40% of the world’s food would not exist without crop protection products.
Chemical synthesis has a vital role in creating new products for crop protection. Often, the inspiration for these comes from naturally occurring compounds that can be developed to give effective treatments for weeds, pests and fungal diseases. The world’s leading agricultural fungicide was developed in this way.
As well as developing new pesticides and herbicides, chemistry helps us to understand and utilise interactions between plants and pests in the wild. Many plants emit complex mixtures of chemicals that affect the behaviour of insects, influencing where they go to feed or breed.
A case study from our report Increasing Africa’s Agricultural Productivity illustrates how once scientists understand the basis of these chemical interactions, they can use this to develop practical methods for pest control. This example demonstrates the benefits of multidisciplinary research programmes in developing new crop protection strategies.
Development of azoxystrobin
Watch Dr John Clough, one of the scientists who worked on azoxystrobin, explain how this happened in his lecture Using Chemistry to Improve Agricultural Productivity.
John’s talk introduces the role of chemistry in creating crop protection agents, including how natural product synthesis played a key role in the discovery of fungicide azoxystrobin.