The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) has on request by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) conducted a risk assessment of Macrolophus pygmaeus as biological control product.
Macrolophus pygmaeus are omnivorous predators e.g. on whiteflies, different species of aphids, thrips and spider mites. Several commercial products containing mirids as the active organism(s) belonging to the genus Macrolophus, are registered in Norway. The area of application of these agents are for control of whiteflies in ornamentals, vegetables, spices, fruits and berries cultivated in greenhouses, tunnels and open fields.
The current approval of these products was given in 2008. The active organism was at the time identified as Macrolophus caliginosus (syn. M. melanotoma), but recent clarification of the taxonomy has revealed that the correct identity is Macrolophus pygmaeus.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) has received applications to maintain the registration for the products with the revised species name Macrolophus pygmaeus. NFSA has requested VKM’s Panel for plant protection products for their opinion on the consequences of the new knowledge with respect to the active species in the products, as well as an assessment of risks to human health and the environment.
Macrolophus caliginosus does not occur naturally in Norway, and a previous environmental risk assessment concluded that M. caliginosus represented a low environmental risk, due to a very low probability that this species could establish in Norway.
Macrolophus pygmaeus on the other hand, is already established in Norway. VKM considers that dispersal/migration of M. pygmaeus into the surrounding environment when used for biological control in greenhouses, tunnels and open fields is very likely, and that such escapes (animals) are likely to become established in the environment.
However, since the species is already present in Norway, VKM considers the probability for significant non-target environmental effects from commercial use and distribution of M. pygmaeus to be low.
Regarding possible human health effects, VKM recognises that the species of Macrolophus previously available in commercial products in Norway and Europe has probably always been M. pygmaeus and, consequently, experience and documentation referring to commercial use of M. caliginosus should be considered valid for M. pygmaeus.
VKM’s Panel on Plant Protection Products has conducted the risk assessment.