Bti on TV: Documentary showcases current research on the insecticide used for mosquito control – now with German & English subtitles!

The documentary made by a Canadian team is the first of its kind that summarises the ecological impact of Bti use in mosquito control and also reflects on associated costs and benefits for the people. The video is now available on YouTube with subtitles of any language, so that everyone can watch and understand it.

The documentary is filmed in Canada, France and Germany, and we were very happy to have the team in Landau and the Eusserthal Ecosystem Research Station. The film covers recent research findings, and therefore offers an excellent opportunity to understand the conflict of “environmental-friendly” biocide use in protected or pristine areas.

Background story: Bti and its use

The biological larvicide Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), used for 40 years around the world to control biting insects, is described as a miracle product, killing mosquitos efficiently without any environmental effects. Bti is also used in mosquito control in Canada in around 50 municipalities, home to nearly 2 million people. However, concerns about the widespread use of Bti are raising in Québec. Locals are faced with relatively high costs for mosquito control. For example, in the small municipality Labelle with a population of about 2,000, featured in the documentary, Bti applications over three years required a budget of $650,000. Moreover, the people in Canada are confronted with an industry that claims the environmental safety of Bti based on its use in Europe for decades.

Is Bti a harmless insecticide? The film team has a closer look

The environmental TV programme “La semaine verte” is asking the question: Bti, a harmless insecticide? The film is explaining the situation in Canada and also reports on research performed by my colleagues Brigitte Poulin who reported first environmental field effects in the Camargue, and Guillaume Tetreau who studies the different crystal toxins of Bti and their persistence in the environment at the University Grenoble. Both are among the co-authors of our recently published review on peer-reviewed studies on Bti impacts.

Director Pier Gagne und camerman Mathieu Hagnery in the cosges at Haute Königsburg before descending to the Rhine plains for filming the Bti treatment area (photo by M. Poiré)

The documentary is visually summarising the review and available studies on environmental effects, also the ones by Stefanie Allgeier, which is nice to see, instead of doing all the reading. Filmed in the Eusserthal Ecosystem Research Station near Landau, it also shows the mesocosm ponds where experiments on Bti just started within our SystemLink program.

Shooting with Radio Canada at the Eusserthal Ecosystem Research Station with cameraman Mathieu Hagnery from Radio-Canada in Paris in an interview with Maxime Poiré (photo by P. Gagné)

The documentary also describes the establishment of mosquito control in Germany providing the position of Dr. Norbert Becker, also called “Mr. Bti” in some parts of the world. Insights into alliances with the Bti industry and resulting politics are also presented. The Québec Ministry of Wildlife is preparing a guidance document that states concern about direct and indirect effects of Bti. To avoid any risk of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, the Department recommends applying the precautionary principle.

The documentary on Bti by Maxime Poiré et Pier Gagné in the series La semaine verte can be seen here (any language subtitles).

More information on the content is available here (in French).

I would like to use this opportunity for a merci beaucoup to Maxime and Pier for their interest in our work and putting the current knowledge on environmental effects together so nicely.