The Queensland government has given the green light to the emergency use approval of the biopesticide Fawligen in a bid to combat the destructive pest fall armyworm.
Since arriving in Australia last year the highly mobile pest has spread throughout Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and south to northern New South Wales, destroying corn and sorghum fields in its wake.
Fawligen is a naturally occurring caterpillar virus that kills the pest from the inside out and spreads to the larvae.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority had issued an Emergency Use Permit to allow Fawligen use.
"The swift approval of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' application, prepared jointly with AgBiTech - the Australian company that developed and produces Fawligen - is a significant step in the battle against this voracious pest," Mr Furner said.
"Fawligen is a welcome addition to the options available for controlling FAW, particularly in crops, such as sweet corn, maize and sorghum, where currently available options are limited or ineffective.
AgBiTech's general manager for Australia, Philip Armytage, said Fawligen is best used as part of an integrated pest management system.
"Fawligen will work as an important management tool when used in strategic combinations with natural enemies and conventional chemistry options," Mr Armytage said.
"Our information from overseas indicates that Fawligen is not a strong, stand-alone solution for FAW control and as a result, Fawligen supply will be restricted to growers and consultants who have undertaken accredited training."