FEMS Microbiology Ecology (2017) 93 (7 -fix084)

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Ben Raymond and Brian A. Federici (2017)
In defence of Bacillus thuringiensis, the safest and most successful microbial insecticide available to humanity—a response to EFSA
FEMS Microbiology Ecology 93 (7 -fix084)
Abstract: The Bacillus cereus group contains vertebrate pathogens such as B. anthracis and B. cereus and the invertebrate pathogen B. thuringiensis (Bt). Microbial biopesticides based on Bt are widely recognised as being among the safest and least environmentally damaging insecticidal products available. Nevertheless, a recent food-poisoning incident prompted a European Food Safety Authority review which argued that Bt poses a health risk equivalent to B. cereus, a causative agent of diarrhoea. However, a critical examination of available data, and this latest incident, provides no solid evidence that Bt causes diarrhoea. Although relatively high levels of B. cereus-like spores can occur in foods, genotyping demonstrates that these are predominantly naturally occurring strains rather than biopesticides. Moreover, MLST genotyping of >2000 isolates show that biopesticide genotypes have never been isolated from any clinical infection. MLST data demonstrate that B. cereus group is heterogeneous and formed of distinct clades with substantial differences in biology, ecology and host association. The group posing the greatest risk (the anthracis clade) is distantly related to the clade containing all biopesticides. These recent data support the long-held view that Bt and especially the strains used in Bt biopesticides are very safe for humans.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
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Database assignments for author(s): Ben Raymond

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
non-target effects/fate in environm.

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Bacillus thuringiensis (entomopathogen)