The science of biotechnology can also help in developing alternative controls to synthetic insecticides to fight against insect pests. Research has found microorganisms in the soil that will attack fungi, viruses or bacteria which cause root diseases. Formulas for coatings on the seed (inoculants) which carry these beneficial organisms can be developed to protect the plant during the critical seedling stage.
While synthetic pesticides are an invaluable tool for agricultural productivity, some of them also have their drawbacks: they are expensive, they are often not foolproof; they can accumulate in our environment and pollute our water systems; and they are not species specific as they can also kill non-target organisms.
Bio insecticides, on the other hand, do not persist long in the environment and have shorter shelf lives; they are effective in small quantities, safer to humans and animals compared to synthetic insecticides; they are very specific, often affecting only a single species of insect and have a very specific mode of action; slow in action and the timing of their application is relatively critical.
Some of these characteristics however, are seen by critics as a disadvantage. For example, because most of these bio insecticide agents are living organisms, their success is affected by several factors like temperature, pH, moisture, UV, soil conditions, and other microbial competitors present in the environment. Slow in action means much longer time for it to eradicate pathogens compared to synthetic pesticides.