After growing for 20 years, the biggest challenge faced by the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association’s (IBMA) is the lack of widespread understanding of terminology by stakeholders in our industry, especially the farming community and consumers. It’s an issue our organization needs to address for 2016.
The image biocontrol products have needs to be simple and is should leave those stakeholders with a positive impression. We need untarnished terminology along with simple, clear, and engaging visual imagery. Biocontrol products need to be understood and their contributions valued.
Emphasizing biocontrol’s low-risk will continue to be a major priority for IBMA this year. We need to ensure procedures are in place that serve as an incentive to bring biological products to the market and that this happens on a short and predictable timescale.
As our segment of the industry continues to develop, it is critical that during 2016 we gain an understanding of its value and growth. The figures to date suggest year-on-year growth of 15% to 20% — not bad for an industry built largely on the efforts of small- to medium-sized enterprises.
As we have grown over the years, the very make up of our industry has changed. Those changes were highlighted at the Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM) this year where we heard from diverse participants in biocontrol of all shapes, sizes, origins. They are pursuing different pathways but are united in a shared belief that the bioprotection business represents the future for modern farming.
We made a good start at ABIM for all to understand the contribution that various members with vastly different business models can make as we move forward. We need to maintain focus on involving and representing all our members often with varied expectations.
IBMA has done a lot to professionalize our association in recent years. This year that process continues to move forward. Our goal as an association is to exhibit clear goals and act in a positive manner with transparency and a high level of member engagement.
IBMA knows 2016 can be important for the newly named federation with our sister association, BioProtection Global, stepping onto the world stage. It should save some resources and enable some true harmonization to occur. It will also help with consistent communication on important issues our industry sees as challenges for the future.
Of course IBMA is mainly focussed on Europe, which in effect means focussed on European regulatory issues and trying to ensure regulation is proportionate to the risks our members’ products pose to human health and the environment. The biological products are meant to be favored under our regulation when compared to conventional plant protection products, but if the treatment we receive can be described as “favored,” I would hate to be discriminated against. Europe wants to help us but cannot seem to find the way to do it.
If all that were not enough to get on with, ABS — Access & Benefit Sharing will be an issue that we hear a lot more of in 2016, and we cannot let it be too much of an administrative burden on our industry, which is reliant on nature to provide effective, innovative but often niche low-environmental impact solutions.
Cary is Executive Director the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association. Contact him at [email protected].