Got the copy of my latest article about biopesticide, with pretty cool (and a little gross) graphic of a venus flytrap.
As previously tweeted, I was intrigued by how the biopesticide industry have been struggling in the overall pesticide and crop protection market despite their products having the benefits of being environment- and regulatory-friendly (especially in the US when it comes to EPA regulation).
The truth of the matter is (and like what the chemical industry has been warning for years), companies cannot just simply market a product as green or environment-friendly. It has to be efficient in doing what it’s supposed to do.
I guess that’s what happened in the biopesticide industry which is mostly populated with small-to-medium enterprise. Pesticides in the US, whether traditional or bio-based (as according to the EPA biopesticide definition) has to be registered, and that cost money as well. How can small companies compete with big global agchemical giants especially when it comes to marketing and registering their products? Farmers will probably choose a well-known, efficient maybe even cheaper, brands over a privately-labeled, albeit a greener product.
That’s what I use to do (and still is most of the time) when buying a cleaning product.
The good news is that the green trend itself is empowering biopesticides to be more noticeable these past few years. Consumers clamor food and agricultural products that have less or no chemical residues on them. Growers and farmers are also demanding safer pesticides for health reasons.
Agchems are now actively seeking out or having marketing deals with biopesticide businesses. It is much like the cosmetics, personal care and cleaning industries where giants such as Clorox, Church & Dwight, L’Oreal, Colgate have dipped into the natural (and organics) market – some through acquisitions (remember Burt’s Bees and Toms of Maine?).
This year alone, BASF formed a marketing deal with US biopesticide company AgraQuest; Bayer acquired certain businesses of Israel-based biopesticide firm Agrogreen; and Bayer is also rumored to have acquired a stake at Dutch biopesticide company Koppert. The blogger was unable to get a confirmation from Bayer (ignored my request more likely).
It is encouraging for the biopesticide industry to see this kind of activities but they remain vigilant for any “snake oil” companies that could ruin their reputation. According to one member of the US-based Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA), the industry is trying to become much better stewards of their technology in the marketplace so that people who use their products will be more confident that what they claim is credible.