EcoScience Corp. said Wednesday that it has entered into anagreement with The Terminix International Co. to develop andmarket biological termite control products.

EcoSciences' techniques will use a naturally occurring fungus,which is safer than chemical pesticides, to repel and killtermites. "Laboratory studies have shown efficacy," JeanieFaulkner, chief financial officer, told BioWorld. "We will bedoing field studies this summer." Faulkner said biopesticideswill never completely replace chemicals, but that they areneeded in sensitive areas such as homes or food preparationareas.

Faulkner said the main problem facing the Worcester, Mass.,company is delivery. "The issue is finding a way to get thefungus to the termites." Faulkner said EcoScience isexperimenting with ways to introduce the fungus to thetermites, including the use of a fungus-filled chamber intowhich the termites would enter.

Under the terms of the agreement, Terminix will providefunding for the development of termite biocontrol products inreturn for exclusive rights in the United States and Canada. Thecompanies will share profits from product sales, and EcoSciencewill retain all rights outside North America.

EcoScience said the current market for termite control productsand services in the Unites States exceeds $700 million annually,but that it is too early to determine how profitable the termite-killing fungus could be. Faulkner said the product could make itto market by 1995.

A similar EcoScience product used to kill cockroaches iscurrently in its final registration process at the EPA. Thecompany (NASDAQ:ECSC) plans to begin marketing the productthis year.

EcoScience bought back all technology and marketing rights tothe product from Roussel Bio Corp. after selling the rights toRoussel in 1989. Faulkner said that after Roussel had acquiredWellcome Environmental Health, the company decided not topursue the cockroach-fighting market. EcoScience bought backthe rights for $700,000.

-- Steve Payne BioWorld Staff

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