The name Paul Stamets probably doesn’t mean much to most people. He’s a mycologist, a mushroom scientist, and in 2006 he received a patent for SMART pesticides. SMART stands for Sporulating Mushrooms And Repelling Technology, and these fungal pesticides are sort of like Mother Nature’s own way of keeping insects from destroying crops. And that could mean very bad news for agricultural giant Monsanto.
Monsanto has gotten waves of bad press in recent years. The company’s pesticides have been linked to a wide range of diseases including cancer and organ failure. While many countries ban the sale of genetically modified (GMO) crops, they’re Monsanto is known for. The company’s bad image also comes from the belief they push small farmers out of business. They also invented Agent Orange, the toxic chemical that killed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and the legacy of which still lingers.
Monsanto has tried to repair its image in recent years by collaborating with academics, partnering with governments in Africa to improve water and food conditions, and providing better water and cultivation resources to Italy. Although Monsanto claims to do good, the evidence of all their harm has upset thousands of people. There have been protests in Oakland, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco over Monsanto’s usage of GMOs in their products.
Could SMART pesticides can finally put an end to Monsanto?
Stamets’ SMART pesticides come from magic mushrooms (not that kind). Stamets collects the insect-killing entomopathogenic fungi and morphs it so that it won’t produce spores — pretty magical, eh?. Around 200,000 different pecies of insects are attracted to the fungi. SMART pesticides are a safe and nearly permanent solution for controlling insects.
Stamets has said that big agriculture insiders have called SMART pesticides “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”
Americans have turned to community gardens and urban forests as ways to grow pesticide free foods. If Stamets succeeds, his fungal technology could change how people grow and maintain crops without commercial pesticides.
(featured image via Andrew)