Green pesticide and herbicide developer Marrone Organic Innovations is nearly done raising $7 million in a second round of funding, CEO Pamela Marrone said Wednesday.

The company raised $3.75 million from investors such as Clean Pacific Ventures, One Earth Capital, Saffron Hill Ventures, Calvert Social Investment Fund and Wavepoint Ventures about a year ago.

The Davis, Calif.-based company, which was founded in 2006, has one product on the market so far. In February, it launched GreenMatch EX, an herbicide based on lemongrass oil that helps control weeds on certified organic cropland.

Marrone Organic has six other products in its research-and-development pipeline, and plans to use its new money to develop them for the market, Marrone said at the Dow Jones Environmental Ventures conference in San Mateo, Calif.

One of those products is what Marrone calls "the big win," a greener alternative to the wildly successful herbicide Roundup.

The biopesticide market is an attractive one. The company said total sales hover around $700 million annually and are expected to reach $1 billion per year by 2010.

And Marrone Organic is only getting started, Marrone said. Only 11 percent of pesticides come from natural sources, she said.

“So we have wide open area that we can exploit from just going out to nature," she said.

And that's just what Marrone Organic does. The company collects natural materials, such as soil samples and dead bugs, and looks for naturally occurring microorganisms that show signs of the power to kill various insects and weeds.

Once the company finds a microorganism with the desired effect, it is tested and, if all pans out, grown in big vats and bottled.

But Marrone Organic isn't the only one looking to deliver more environmentally sound pest and weed control.

In December, Davis, Calif.-based AgraQuest announced it had raised $20 million in funding for biopesticides also made out of naturally occurring microorganisms.
And in June, Alpharetta, Ga.-based EcoSmart Technologies launched a line of pesticide products that use organic plant oils as the active ingredient to kill bugs such as wasps.