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Delaware chemists win national award for environmentally benign insecticide

Stephen F. McCann and his colleagues Charles Harrison, George Lahm, Rafael Shapiro and Keith Wing of E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. will be honored March 25 by the world's largest scientific society for their discovery and development of indoxacarb, a new type of insecticide safe for beneficial insects, birds, fish and mammals, including humans. They will receive the 2003 Award for Team Innovation from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in New Orleans.

"We discovered indoxacarb as a new crop-protection insecticide that's environmentally friendly and is safe for farmers to use," said McCann, a chemist who specializes in organic synthesis at DuPont's Stine-Haskell Research Center in Newark, Del.

"It has a mode of action that's different from any others being used now," he continued. "That means it can be used at lower application rates than current products because insects aren't resistant to it -- and it breaks down rapidly in the environment."

Indoxacarb blocks a nerve membrane channel that conducts sodium atoms, a critical step in communication between nerves. With sodium channels clogged, the nerves can't signal -- and thus at even low levels of insecticide, the jaws of insects can't chew on crops.

The insecticide, marketed as Steward and Avaunt, is effective for a variety of crops, including tomatoes, soybeans, vines and tree fruit. It has made particular impact in the countries of West Africa, where farmers are heavily dependent on growing cotton. The Helicoverpa armigera caterpillar, or cotton bollworm, is a regular plague that eats the young leaves and buds of cotton plants.

McCann's role as team leader in indoxacarb's development was to discover its molecular architecture, the oxadiazines, which were derived from other sodium-channel blockers but break down more quickly in the environment.

Among what McCann called "a host of contributors," Lahm, also an organic che
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Contact: Allison Byrum
a_byrum@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
4-Mar-2003


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