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June 13th, 2018 / New Atlas

Although it’s associated with nasty cigarettes, the tobacco plant is also a potential source of vaccines, biofuel and antibiotics. Now, a chemical from the plant is also being used as a bug repellent for crops, which could replace eco-unfriendly insecticides.

One of the problems with insecticides is the fact that they not only kill crop-eating insects, but also beneficial species such as bees and butterflies. Additionally, through storm runoff and soil leaching, they make their way into rivers and lakes, causing widespread environmental damage.

The tobacco plant, however, is able to protect itself from insects on its own. It does so by producing a chemical known as cembratrienol (or CBTol for short) in its leaves. Bugs are repelled by the odor of CBTol, and as a result tend to stay away. Read more