Walloon spin-off has developed herbicide based on essential oil


Glyphosate is a chemical pesticide that harms humans and the environment. APEO, a spin-off from Agro-Bio Tech's Laboratory of Phytopathology in the Walloon Brabant town of Gembloux, has developed a 'green' substitute based on a single essential oil.

For more than 10 years, Agro-Bio Tech from Gembloux has been searching for a biological alternative to glyphosate. Spin-off Agronomical Plant Extracts & Essential Oils (APEO) was established in 2021. After rigorous selection and testing of 91 essential oils, sourced from a database containing no less than 3,000 essential oils, only one met the objective. Which oil this involves is a closely guarded trade secret. APEO's new compound acts on different cell parts, namely the walls, membrane and internal elements. The cost is slightly higher than glyphosate, but this is offset by major environmental benefits: the substance is 100% organic, degrades in less than three days and is safe for humans and the environment. Moreover, it is easily sourced and there is no supply problem. APEO has started the homologation process and expects to market its innovative product in the US in 2026 and in Europe in 2027 at the earliest. First a diluted variant for individuals, then a more concentrated variant for professionals.

Eventually, APEO is aiming for a complete set of biological solutions, including bio-fungicides based on essential oils and plant extracts that involve other molecules.