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Tobacco, Nicotine Good for Something After All: Pesticide

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I admit it: I?ve had my doubts about the virtues of tobacco and nicotine. I?m deeply ashamed of myself, but it feels good to confess.

I?ve done pretty well at keeping the faith, but I read new research practically every month showing the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, tobacco, and nicotine. And every once in a while, I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if tobacco and nicotine are a Good Idea.

Well, that?s all in the past, now. Turns out that researchers looking to help tobacco farmers have found a new use for tobacco and nicotine — as a pesticide.

In an article in the Oct. 27 issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, researchers reported that a ?bio-oil? gleaned from tobacco leaves cooked in a vacuum at extremely high heat killed a range of insects, fungi and bacteria. It was more effective with nicotine in it, but was still toxic without it.

Apparently, this isn?t news to gardeners, who have used tobacco and water to kill pests for a long time, but the researchers hope that their ?bio-oil? can help tobacco farmers hurt by dropping demand.

That?s good news ? how could I have ever had doubts?

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