Sero-X, the X-Factor in food production

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton welcomed the launch of an innovative organic pesticide which could have the capacity to stimulate the global food and fibre market around the world.

It is produced in Goondiwindi.

Mr Coulton was recently one of a number of special guests at the launch of Sero-X, a world-first plant-based insecticide, hosted by the Wee Waa based research and development company, Innovate Ag headed by Kerry and Nick Watts and their family.

At the launch of Sero-X were the Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, Innovate Ag’s Kerry Watts, the Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, Innovate Ag’s Nick Watts, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.

At the launch of Sero-X were the Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, Innovate Ag’s Kerry Watts, the Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, Innovate Ag’s Nick Watts, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.

He said the business utilised a number of Federal Government initiatives, which have assisted Innovate Ag, including Accelerating Commercialisation starting with a grant of $1.5 million that was extended by $300,000.

“This money was crucial in enabling us to develop a product that we were incredibly proud of, we would never have got as far as we did without it. We would have had to sell half of the company to raise that kind of money,” Nick Watts said.

Sero-X is the result of over 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.

Mr Coulton said the non-toxic, bee friendly product is set to revolutionise food and fibre production world-wide by offering an extremely effective organic alternative to traditional synthetic pesticides.

Butterfly pea’s ability to naturally protect itself was first identified and scientifically investigated by Dr Robert Mensah, from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, while he was working at the Australian Cotton Research Institute, near Wee Waa.

Through extensive scientific trials, funded by the Cotton Catchment Communities Co-operative Research Centre (Cotton CRC), he was able to prove that insects did not eat and, in fact, actively avoided the plant, choosing alternative sources nearby.

The discoveries of Dr Mensah were the basis for a joint commercial venture called Innovate Ag, which formed between local Wee Waa company Growth Ag and another locally owned family business.

Nick Watts said the official launch of Sero-X is a momentous occasion for agriculture and related industries around the world.

“It is the beginning of a journey which will allow us to harness naturally occurring plant extracts and compounds – much like the discovery of Pyrethroids which eventually saw DDT removed from the market,” he said.

“Plant extracts and peptides will allow the development of naturally occurring pest control methods which will reduce if not eliminate our reliance on synthetic chemistry.

“The launch of Sero-X will one day be a point on a timeline that marks the moment at which botanical products that have peptides as their primary active ingredient, were first commercially available.

“We also fully expect that this research will also allow greater insight into how we can harness the power of plants to aid in development of human health products and systems.”

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