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Protease Enzyme : The 'Perfect' Pesticide

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This article refers to the U.S. Patented Process ( #6663860 ), owned by Stephen L. Tvedten, which has 77 claims on the process of using various formulas and compositions of Protease Enzyme & Surfactant to control a broad array of pests such as insects, arachnids, bacteria, viruses, and mold.  While in its liquid state, the enzyme compound is active and can be used to safely control bugs without the use of pesticide. The entire enzyme surfactant compound contains only ingredients that are considered to be non-toxic, food-grade or GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), so it can be used around people ranging from infants to elderly, pregnant, ill or chemically sensitive. The Patent allows for an unlimited amount of safer and far more effective alternatives to pesticides and herbicides.

Background of the Invention

Pesticides present risks to human health. Although the rate of post-application degradation may vary widely, almost all pesticides present some direct risk to human health through residual toxicity, i.e. direct human contact with pesticide residues remaining after treatment, whether through inhalation of volatile toxic vapors, skin contact and transdermal absorption, or ingestion. In addition, many pesticides present indirect risks to human health in the form of environmental pollution, most notably pollution with persistent, halide-substituted organics which accumulate in the fat stores of food fish and other animals. These problems have led to complete bans on the use of some pesticides (e.g., DDT, chlordane, heptachlor, aldrin, and dieldrin); while the continued use of the remaining pesticides has produced a new problem: the increasing development of widespread resistance to pesticides in insects.

This resistance yields two results: 1) quick reinfestation by the pest insect; 2) the need and cost of continually engineering new pesticides (e.g., synthetic pyrethroids were developed because of resistance to the less toxic first generation pyrethrins). New pesticide production takes time and the new pesticides that result are almost universally more expensive than those they replace.

In this context, traditional pesticides are applied on a regular, and typically increasing, basis. For example, many schools have come to be sprayed monthly or even biweekly, and with increasing quantities of pesticides to combat endemic roach re-infestations, often to no avail. This intensifies the problem of residual toxicity to people, especially to children who, as a result, may suffer headaches, grogginess, nausea, dizziness, irritability, frenetic behavior, and an impaired readiness to learn.

Because of these effects, it has been recognized that totally new approaches must be discovered and implemented in order to effectively control invertebrate pests without destroying human health and the environment. There is a need for a quick-acting, effective, residually non-toxic method for combatting insect, arachnid, and other pests which may be used as a replacement for traditional pesticide treatments and as a supplement to the arsenal of currently available IPM techniques.

Summary Of The Invention

Consequently, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method for combatting invertebrate (i.e. insect and arachnid) and microbe (i.e. bacterial, algal, fungal, and/or viral) pests which is quick-acting, effective, and residually non-toxic and which may be used as a replacement for traditional pesticide treatments and as a supplement to the arsenal of currently available integrated pest management techniques.

It has been surprisingly found that the application of a composition comprising at least one protease enzyme is a method for exterminating pests which achieves these objectives. The enzyme component of the invention may comprise a single protease or a protease-containing mixture of enzymes, whether natural, preformed, or synthetic. In an alternate embodiment, the composition may also comprise a detergent component. This detergent component comprises one or more surfactant(s), detergent builder(s), or mixtures thereof.

Description of the Invention

Part of the science behind how Protease enzyme works as a natural pest control agent is that all insects undergo a molting cycle in which they naturally produce a small amount of Protease enzyme to create a chemical “zipper” that splits open a seam in their exoskeletons so they can emerge from their shell and grow larger. Without this vital Protease enzyme, insects would be trapped inside their own exoskeletons and be crushed to death by their own growth. There is no possibility that insects or arachnids can ever develop a resistance to Protease enzyme as a physical control agent because their very existence depends on it!. Indeed, enzymes play many vital roles throughout the insect kingdom. Maggots produce enzymes to help soften up food for digestion. Spiders and scorpions inject their prey with enzyme and allowing it to predigest the victim. Insectivore plants such as the Venus fly trap also use enzymes to digest insects. Even pests like bacteria and mold use enzymes to break down dead organic material on a cellular level.

In The Best Control II IPM encyclopedia, Steve Tvedten outlines how through his years of pest control field research, he has continually proven that Enzyme-based compositions are the safest and fastest knock-down "pesticides" available on the pest control market today. Most insects die in about six seconds when exposed to Protease enzyme. Ticks and spiders are arachnids, and have stronger shells than arthropods, so they require about two minutes to be destroyed. The dilution rate of the enzyme and surfactant blend can be calibrated to remove only chosen insects such as aphids, but weak enough to protect beneficial insects such as honey bees.

Pest Control has long sought a 'Holy Grail' idyllic pesticide; one that is totally safe for humans, yet certain death to insects, and would never become obsolete. This 'Perfect' pesticide would be not only be non-toxic but permanent too. Sadly, humans do not have the biological tolerance to pesticides that insects do.

The 5th Edition of Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Control Operations described the 'Perfect' or 'Ideal' pesticide as:

"Ideally any pesticide will act rapidly on pests, yet be completely harmless to people, domestic animals, wildlife, and other aspects of the environment. Its residues would only last as long as was necessary to create the desired effect, usually for very short periods. It would also be inexpensive and readily available in necessary quantities, chemically stable (before application), non-flammable, and otherwise safe to use around homes or industrial sites. It would be easily prepared and applied, non-corrosive and non-staining, and it would have no undesirable odor. Unfortunately, no such (synthetic) pesticide exists.”
[Excerpt taken from: Pest Control Magazine, 1997]
Study conducted by: Purdue University and Advanstar Communications

When this study was released in 1997, Stephen Tvedten was actually field testing his Protease enzyme patent process as a natural control for insects. In addition to fitting the above outline for an 'Ideal' or perfect non-toxic pesticide, his Protease enzyme and surfactant formulations, such as Lice R Gone®, have an added bonus of never becoming resisted by insects.

Stephen L. Tvedten has recently been working with teams of scientists to register an enzyme formula as a biopesticide, and also to micro-encapsulate the active ingredients in the compound to keep them permanently in suspension . The 77 claims protected under Stephen L. Tvedten's original US and Australian patents allow for the creation of an infinite number of enzyme based formulations to safely control every possible pest problem. Modifications and improvements to various enzyme formulas shall be thoroughly defined within his patent process.

It is estimated that we lose between 25,000 to 100,000 species of plants, animals and insects every year due to man's "footprint" on the environment.  There are estimated to be over 60 million species of insects in the world, only about one million of which have been identified , and of those, only about 1,000 are truly considered to be "pests".  Mankind has waged a costly losing war fighting these few species of insects with pesticides for the past century and has never managed to gain total control of a single one! It truly is time for a change!


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©2005 Institute of Pest Management