Reflections on Insecticides: Mirror forms of agrochemicals set risk

8:53am, January 5, 2005

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the most hazardous pesticide form of all? Such is the question that scientists and regulators should be asking as they evaluate the environmental effects of pesticides, new research suggests.

Many molecules, like gloves of a pair, exist in mirror-image forms. A team of environmental researchers has found that for some insecticides, one mirror-image variant, or enantiomer, is more toxic or degrades more slowly in the environment than its counterpart does. Since pesticides typically are mixtures of both enantiomers of a pair, understanding the differences between the two could lead to more-effective and less environmentally hazardous agrochemicals.

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