The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is hoping to rush through legislation to allow the importation of fungus used as a natural pesticide. The fungus in question, Beauveria bassiana GHA, is currently on Hawaii’s list of restricted microorganisms. State officials say that the fungus poses little threat to the environment or to human life.
Beauveria bassiana GHA is a naturally occurring fungus that is found in soil throughout the world. The fungus poses little threat to human life. The benefit posed by the fungus is its pesticide properties. The fungus kills a variety of agricultural pests, most importantly for Hawaii the Coffee berry borer. The beetle has recently posed a major threat to Hawaii coffee production. Discovered in 2010, the beetle population has exploded in recent months, destroying significant amounts of Hawaii’s coffee crops (some farms report up to 60% losses).
Although researchers are unclear how the infestation grew so large so quickly, some have hypothesized that recent droughts led to a decline in naturally occurring Beauveria bassiana GHA fungus, a decline which prevented the naturally occurring limitation of the coffee beetle population.
Officials hope that the rule change can be approved quickly in order to preserve the coffee crop and to prevent significant financial hardship by Hawaii farmers and further damage to the state economy.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer