Biopesticides: A US$1.6 billion sector on the move -

Biopesticides: A US$1.6 billion sector on the move

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Biopesticides: A US$1.6 billion sector on the move

When the Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) began 15 years ago it had just five members. Now that number has swelled to 91 with a mix of large chemical companies like BASF and DuPont, as well as smaller, rapidly-growing innovators. At, we catch up with the group's executive director Keith Jones who gives the lowdown on why natural pesticides have gained so much traction in farming.

Based in Washington D.C., Jones says the number of biopesticide registrations is growing every year, as more growers look to incorporate cleaner options into their integrated pest management schemes. Keith Jones Head Shot (2) - panorama

"As the population grows around the world there's a greater demand for food production, but everyone wants sustainable agriculture; they want little or no impact on human health and the environment," he says.

"Natural pesticides are really the way to achieve that."

He says these products have grown in popularity with organic and conventional growers alike, as well as public health officials as a tool for food processing establishments and controlling pest-borne illnesses.

"Often producers actually realize better yields and quality when they use biopesticides, and biopesticides allow greater flexibility when harvesting crops because generally they don't have the very long restricted entry intervals or waiting periods where you can send folks in to harvest the crop.

"All those large chemical companies too like BASF, DuPont, Bayer, they’re all members now, getting into this arena - some of them only have a handful of products but they really see the growth potential," he says, highlighting reports that estimate the global biopesticide industry is worth US$1.6 billion, with forecast compound growth of 16% until 2019.

Jones describes the biopesticide industry as collaborative, and believes more consolidation and acquisition will be in the pipeline.

"I'm very new to this [he joined the BPIA in August, 2015] but the sense I've gotten is there is a lot of opportunity in the industry, and a lot of that is around acquisition.

"If somebody is new to the market with a real entrepreneurial idea, with innovative technology, the larger companies are very interested in that.

"It benefits both because the newer player maybe looking for a platform, for distribution, and these are the kinds of things we’re seeing more and more of."

While consolidation will bring companies together, Jones doesn't think the number of biopesticide firms will diminish.

"But it seems every time there is consolidation or an acquisition, several new companies spring up that we hadn't heard of before with a new idea, a new technology, or building on an existing technology but taking it in a different direction, making it more productive.

"Our association is going to grow along with it. We started with definitely a North American focus but we actually have members now from all over the world – we have members from Canada, Europe, Israel, South America and India."

Bringing more certainty to registrations

One key reason why BPIA is in Washington D.C. is to promote the sector's importance and growth to government agencies, and improve registration processes for products.

"If you don't get a product registered in time you can't get it out there to the public; it really impacts the growers as well because they're looking for these tools and have a need to integrate them into their pest management systems," Jones says.

"Typically biopesticides do get registered quicker than traditional pesticides because there is a presumption that there's less impact on the environment, so there are less requirements when you're trying to get a natural pesticide.

"The process is already shorter, but what we really need is certainty in the process."

The big issue on the regulatory side is the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), which Jones says will be up for re-authorization in 2017.

"That's the primary funding source for the BPIA and the registration process for biopesticides. That's critically important to us, and we’re hoping to have Congress re-authorize it possibly before the end of 2016.

"We have a little bit of time, but not that much because we’re going into a presidential election and things have kind of slowed down in Congress.

"We're hoping they may authorize it for seven years rather than five years."

Upcoming conference

Jones encourages industry players to attend the BPIA's semi-annual spring meeting on March 1-2, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency Monterey, California.

"On March 2, we're actually hosting what we call the International Biochemical Industry Symposium, and that's going to center on a number of topics – we're going to look at emerging technologies, global markets for bioprotection and regulatory harmonization," he says, adding representative bodies from a range of global regulatory bodies will be present.

"In addition to the regulators we're going to have members of these associations around the world to give a global perspective.

"Right after that, in the same location basically on March 3 and 4, Meister Media are going to host a two-day Bio Controls USA 2016 – it's a conference and expo and it's targeted at the growers.

"The events are back-to-back, they are separate events, but the idea is that people can come and do almost a whole week of biopesticide-focused activities."


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