Bacillus thuringiensis material fact sheet

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USDA-NOP: considered nonsynthetic, allowed. Preventive, cultural, mechanical and physical methods must be first choice for pest control, and conditions for use of a biological material must be documented in the organic system plan (7CFR 205.206(e).

MATERIAL DESCRIPTION: The active ingredients in Bt products are proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. Some activity also occurs from the spores. Bt is a member of the genus Bacillus, a diverse group of spore forming bacteria that consists of more than 20 species. The species B. thuringiensis is common in terrestrial habitats, including soil, dead insects, granaries and on plants (AAM 2002). Bt has many subspecies that possess a variety of crystalline proteins with distinct insecticidal properties. Some subspecies work only against Lepidoptera (caterpillars), while others work against only Coleoptera (beetles) or the larvae of flies and mosquitoes (Diptera). It is important to match the subspecies of Bt with the insect type (Siegel 2000). The products allowed for certified organic production typically contain derivatives of bacterial cultures that include the protein active ingredient (endotoxin), spores, plus adjuvants such as wetting agents.

Brian Caldwell
Emily Brown Rosen
Eric Sideman
Anthony M. Shelton
Christine D. Smart
Cornell Cooperative Extension Publication