October 5, 2009

Hormone discards plant pesticide residue

Chinese scientists say they've discovered a plant hormone applied to crops can help plants eliminate certain pesticide residues.

Jing Quan Yu and colleagues at Zhejiang University said pesticides are essential for sustaining food production for the world's growing population. But scientists have been seeking new ways of minimizing pesticide residues that remain in food crops after harvest. Previous research suggested plant hormones called brassinosteroids might be an answer to the problem.

In the new study, the scientists treated cucumber plants with one type of brassinosteroid and then treated the plants with various pesticides. They found the hormone significantly reduced the toxicity and residues in the plants.

The researchers said brassinosteroids might be promising, environmentally friendly, natural substances suitable for wide application to reduce the risks of human and environmental exposure to pesticides. The substances do not appear to be harmful to people or other animals, they added.

The study appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.