Biopesticides are pesticides that come from a natural source, or are derived from microorganisms, plant extracts or fermentation processes or some other natural means of production.
Bill Stoneman, executive director of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA), spoke with The Shelby Report during the PMA Fresh Summit & Expo in Anaheim, Calif., about his group’s goal.
“Our purpose is to promote the use of biopesticides—the adoption and use—and also to educate regulatory or other agencies about biopesticides and to try to create a situation in which biopesticides don’t have an impediment to entering the marketplace,” he said.
“I guess you could say we lobby a bit about what we believe the policies and standards should be. And we’ve had some impact in that respect.”
Stoneman, who has been involved with biopesticides for about two decades, says BPI’s membership ranges from large agribusiness corporations to small “mom-and-pop” type companies that develop or market natural pesticides.
Sipcam/Advan in Raleigh, N.C., offers a product called Contans WG, which controls scleratinia minor and scleratinia sclerotiorum for a range of plants.
According to Scott Peterson, agricultural sales manager for Sipcam/Advan, growers in the Midwest typically use Contans WG for crops such as soybeans, edible beans, canola and sunflower.
“The early adopters of this product, they’re looking at it from the standpoint of they’ve got a problem with a disease and here’s a solution. It’s getting a good return on investment for those growers,” Peterson said.
Sclerotinia, a fungus, affects multiple crops, including lettuce crops in the Western U.S., added Stoneman.
He mentioned some other examples of biopesticides. For one, Bayer Crop Sciences offers Votivo, “a nematicide that’s used fairly widely in row crop agriculture. There’s also MeloCon WG, which is used in vegetable crop production, a nematicide at the seed, or furrow, level and all the way through storage for the vegetable crops. There are biopesticide applications across that whole horizon,” he said.
Rick Melnick is with Valent BioSciences Corp., which was formed in the year 2000 when the agricultural interests of Abbott Labs were purchased by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese company.
Valent is a global research and development company that develops biopesticide products such as DiPel, XenTari and DiTera.
“Valent has a broad array of products in forestry, public health and quite a wide variety of materials used in agricultural crop production across agronomic crops all the way through agricultural,” he said. “We also have a full line of plant growth regulators, which is a huge part of our business.”
Melnick has been with Valent for about a year. The company is based in Libertyville, Ill., north of Chicago, where Abbott Labs operated.
Melnick joined BPIA in 2003 and serves on the board. He formerly worked for Meister Media, an agricultural media company. That’s where he met the CEO of Valent BioSciences, who was a member of the editorial advisory board. That began his education about biopesticides.
Stoneman added that biopesticides are used in both conventional and as organic agriculture.
“Oftentimes, people confuse biological with strictly organic; that’s not really the case,” he said. “Most of our member companies have products that are useful for organic growers but the majority of our business is in conventional agriculture.”