Israeli tech seeks to undo the damage of pesticides

Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 by Webmaster

Israeli tech seeks to undo the damage of pesticides
The Green Revolution may have saved a billion people from starvation, according to common wisdom, but the expansion of agricultural technology came at a price: A sharp increase in the use of pesticides and chemicals seeping into the groundwater and entering the food chain — setting off who-knows-what consequences in the long-term.

But with technology developed at the Weizmann Institute, and commercialized by Israeli start-up Catalyst AgTech, we may be able to avoid finding out what those long-term consequences are. In what industry professionals have told him is a "game-changing technology," Shalom Nachshon, CEO of Catalyst AgTech, is hopeful that the work his company is doing will rid the environment of chemicals and pesticides that otherwise could "hang around" in water and soil for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Some chemicals just sort of "sit there," but many are actually harmful, to plants, animals, and humans.

Are starvation or a slow death by poisoning the only two options for humanity? Not if Catalyst AgTech has anything to say about it. As Nachshon explains, "Based on technology developed at the Weizmann Institute, we are developing catalysts that will increase the speed of a molecule's destruction. Instead of hanging around in soil and groundwater, chemical molecules get broken down and rendered inert within days," Nachshon said.

The secret is in the catalyst that — when added to chemicals and pesticides — it accelerates a chemical reaction with molecules when they settle into the ground, destroying them.

"That ensures that the chemical does what it is supposed to do before being destroyed, said Nachshon. "It's a simple and eco-friendly method of dealing with chemicals, allowing farmers to do what they need to do in order grow as much food as possible."

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