Notes from ABIM

David Cary, Executive Director of the IBMA, introduces the keynote speaker.

David Cary, Executive Director of the IBMA, introduces EPA’s Jim Jones, theDay One keynote speaker.

The Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM) show in Basel, Switzerland, ended this week with nearly 900 attendees — the largest in its 11 years — representing 48 countries. The show is put on by the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL).

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Back when the show started, much of the world viewed chemical pesticides and biocontrol products as separate entities. Even five years ago there was a distinction for many. For many, the line separating the two has seriously blurred, if not been erased all together.

After a series of sessions, presentations, and meetings, a few things stood out. Here are five ideas that permeated the program.

1. The Biocontrols Revolution Continues

Basel is an interesting city, but that isn’t enough to draw a record number of attendees. Interest in the market segment continues to grow both from multinationals investing in the space and smaller companies specializing in biocontrols.

Ecosense Labs' Ketan Mehta, talks about the state of biocontrols in India.

Ecosense Labs’ Ketan Mehta, talks about the state of biocontrols in India.

2. The Drivers

Consumers’ insatiable desire for organic products has pushed growers to invest in biocontrol products to protect their crops. While consumers have misconceptions about organic crops (many think it means no pesticides of any sort), the industry segment continues to expand.

In addition, conventional growers are moving to plug biocontrols into their pesticide programs because these products can make it easier to manage the end-of-season (pre-harvest pest control).

3. The Science Supports the Segment

While the term snake oil is still bandied about, it is now usually preceded by the words “there was a time when biocontrols were considered…” If a company plans to bring a product to market, it must have efficacy data attached to it.

4. When it Comes to Registration, the U.S. is a Leader

Tetsuo "Tommy" Wada, consult to Arysta Lifescience Japan, updates attendees on the use of biocontrols in IPM in Japan.

Tetsuo “Tommy” Wada, consult to Arysta Lifescience Japan, updates attendees on the use of biocontrols in IPM in Japan.

About 20 years ago, the United States chose to separate registration of traditional and biological products. Much of the rest of the world treats these products the same meaning that biocontrol products receive the same scrutiny and the company must conduct the same testing results as their traditional pesticide counterparts.

5. Education is Still Necessary

Despite the awareness, there are still key. Biocontrols can be effective but they generally require a bit more attention than their chemical counterparts. The timing and manner in which biocontrols are applied can have a huge impact on their effectiveness. Manufacturers have and will continue to educate all members of the value chain on how to use these products most effectively.