1998 Designing Greener Chemicals Award

Rohm & Haas Company (now a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company)

 

Invention and Commercialization of a New Chemical Family of Insecticides Exemplified by CONFIRMTM Selective Caterpillar Control Agent and the Related Selective Insect Control Agents MACH 2TM and INTREPIDTM

 

Innovation and Benefits: Rohm and Haas developed CONFIRMTM, a novel insecticide for controlling caterpillar pests in turf and a variety of crops. CONFIRMTM is less toxic than other insecticides to a wide range of nontarget organisms, poses no significant hazard to farm workers or the food chain, and does not present a significant spill hazard. EPA has classified CONFIRMTM as a reduced-risk pesticide.

Summary of Technology: The value of crops destroyed worldwide by insects exceeds tens of billions of dollars. Over the past fifty years, only a handful of classes of insecticides have been discovered to combat this destruction. Rohm and Haas Company has discovered a new class of chemistry, the diacylhydrazines, that offers farmers, consumers, and society a safer, effective technology for insect control in turf and a variety of agronomic crops. One member of this family, CONFIRMTM, is a breakthrough in caterpillar control. It is chemically, biologically, and mechanistically novel. It effectively and selectively controls important caterpillar pests in agriculture without posing significant risk to the applicator, the consumer, or the ecosystem. It will replace many older, less effective, more hazardous insecticides and has been classified by EPA as a reduced-risk pesticide.

CONFIRMTM controls target insects through an entirely new mode of action that is inherently safer than current insecticides. The product acts by strongly mimicking a natural substance found within the insect's body called 20-hydroxy ecdysone, which is the natural "trigger" that induces molting and regulates development in insects. Because of this "ecdysonoid" mode of action, CONFIRMTM powerfully disrupts the molting process in target insects, causing them to stop feeding shortly after exposure and to die soon thereafter.

Since 20-hydroxy ecdysone neither occurs nor has any biological function in most nonarthropods, CONFIRMTM is inherently safer than other insecticides to a wide range of nontarget organisms such as mammals, birds, earthworms, plants, and various aquatic organisms. CONFIRMTM is also remarkably safe to a wide range of key beneficial, predatory, and parasitic insects such as honeybees, lady beetles, parasitic wasps, predatory bugs, beetles, flies, and lacewings, as well as other predatory arthropods such as spiders and predatory mites. Because of this unusual level of safety, the use of these products will not create an outbreak of target or secondary pests due to destruction of key natural predators or parasites in the local ecosystem. This should reduce the need for repeat applications of additional insecticides and reduce the overall chemical load on both the target crop and the local environment.

CONFIRMTM has low toxicity to mammals by ingestion, inhalation, and topical application and has been shown to be completely non-oncogenic, nonmutagenic, and without adverse reproductive effects. Because of its high apparent safety and relatively low use rates, CONFIRMTM poses no significant hazard to the applicator or the food chain and does not present a significant spill hazard. CONFIRMTM has proven to be an outstanding tool for control of caterpillar pests in many integrated pest management (IPM) and resistance management situations. All of these attributes make CONFIRMTM among the safest, most selective, and most useful insect control agents ever discovered.


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