Innovate Ag launches Sero-X

An innovative plant-based insecticide which has the potential to revolutionise pest control, and even human health, was launched in Wee Waa recently.

Sero-X is the world’s first bio-insecticide that is safe for humans and non-target species, particularly vital insects like bees.

Developed by Wee Waa family-based company Innovate Ag, Sero-X is the result of 15 years of trials and research into the insecticidal properties of butterfly pea which led to the identification of peptides and cyclotides found in the legume.

Innovate Ag director Nick Watts said the non-toxic product is set to revolutionise food and fibre production world-wide by offering an extremely effective, organic alternative to traditional synthetic pesticides.

“We’ve got a product that has zero impact on non-target species; it can compete with the synthetics and is completely benign to humans and bees,” he said.

“These products will take all products that are harmful to the environment off the market. We see this as the first of many products.”

Sero-X was officially launched at the Watts’ family property in Wee Waa on Friday, May 12 by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who was joined by a long list of key stakeholders and dignitaries including Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, State Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries and NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey.

Mr Watts said the launch of Sero-X marks a significant moment in time for agriculture.

“Today is about marking a point in time which we believe a revolution in pest control will have started,” he said.

“We see it as a moment in time that people will look back on and see as the first time products based on peptides were available on the market.

“Synthetic pyrethroids saw the end of DDT and other chemicals that were harmful to humans. Peptide based products, not just ours but others, will see the end of chemicals that are harmful to the environment and eco-systems.”

In addition to revolutionising global food and fibre production, the peptides and cyclotides found in the butterfly pea have the potential to treat human diseases.

“The chemistry behind this product is going to change the face of agriculture and health production for many years to come,” Innovate Ag chairman Kerry Watts said.

“This has been a 10-year journey for us and the most exciting thing I’ve ever been involved in with agriculture and I’ve been in the ag chem industry since 1974.”

Butterfly pea’s ability to naturally protect itself was discovered by Australian cotton researcher Dr Robert Mensah because of the scarcity of insects on the plant.

Dr Mensah’s research began the basis for the joint commercial venture, Innovate Ag, which has since partnered with researchers from the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

These researchers, headed by Professor David Craik, have been working with Innovate Ag to understand which cyclotides in the extract are active and how they can optimise the harvest of the plant so that the extract is more potent.

Innovate Ag recently partnered with Belgium-based Biological Products of Agriculture (Bi-PA) to help commercialise Sero-X and distribute it globally.

Earlier this year the product was registered for use by Australian farmers with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.