BioTEPP Inc. is an innovative biotechnology company that produces environmentally friendly biopesticides thus reducing the spreading of chemical pesticides. Its flagship product VirosoftTM CP4 has developed very fast in the Canada and USA markets. Recently, AgroPages made an interview with Company’s President, Claude Gagnon
, to talk about the global viral bio-pesticides and the Company’s future plan.
Could you please introduce BioTEPP briefly?
Launched twenty years ago, BioTEPP has succeeded in creating a very potent bio-insecticide and successfully marketing it in the US and Canada. Its virus-based insecticide called VirosoftTM CP4 controls codling moth on pome fruits, stone fruits and nuts and, according to new data, oriental fruit moth. BioTEPP is also actively pursuing an ambitious organic growth program. For example:
BioTEPP is expanding its registration in two more countries outside North America for its flagship product, VirosoftTM CP4.
We are developing a new virus to fight cabbage loopers and other caterpillars.
BioTEPP is also in discussions to acquire two fungicides in the early stages of development. One is virus-based, the other is a fungus-based entity.
To facilitate the development of these products, we have moved our headquarters and research lab in the Québec City region (Canada) to take advantage of its cluster of research institutions with major bio-science departments.
And finally, in terms of corporate finances, while BioTEPP is virtually debt free, we are always open to major partners to support our expansion projects.
BioTEPP is an innovative viral bio-pesticides company, could you please tell us what are the opportunities and challenges for this field (viral bio-pesticides)?
Our world in general, and fruit and vegetable growers in particular, are faced with many challenges; population growth and sustainable food production are among them.
But now global warming adds to their already heavy burden. One of its consequences is that food production is affected by the increased activity of parasitic insects that often have more than one reproductive cycle during a growing season. Also adding to the pressure is the appearance of new parasites from other continents and the increase in pest resistance to various pesticides.
As regulators around the world have either withdrawn or banned many chemical pesticides that have proven harmful to our environment, the fight against crop pests must now take a new course. We feel that the most promising remains the organic or biological sector, in other words the increased use of natural enemies of bacteria, fungi or viruses to protect world food supplies.
Compared with other biopesticides, such as bacteria and botanical pesticides, what are the advantages for viral biopesticides?
I would start off by saying that this question should be formulated differently because we live in an era where the world of agriculture needs more bacteria, botanical and virus- based pesticides, all three forming an important ecosystem to fight against pests.
All things considered, baculovirus-based insecticides answer many questions about pesticide uses and registration requirements.
That being said, we feel virus-based insecticides have these advantages:
Baculoviruses have been recognized as not harmful to humans, since they are already present in the crop environment.
Reports show that viruses are highly potent on major pests.
They have the ability to restore their potency after resistance.
They have a narrow range of insect targets allowing the preservation of beneficial insects.
Nowadays, how do farmers accept such bio-pesticides? In the actual promotion, what strategy did your company or partners adopt?
Given that growers are under such heavy pressure from the market to supply organic produce, acceptance of bio-pesticides is really not an issue.
Producers like these products for their ease of use, safety and efficiency in controlling pests.
Furthermore, our product, VirosoftTM CP4 is as easy to use as any other product, such that growers don’t need to use different equipment to apply it.
VIROSOFT™CP4 is your core product, and will your company plan to launch other products in the next 5 years?
The virus-based pesticide technology is actually going through a tremendous dynamic development period. It supports BioTEPP’s determination to move forward in its quest for more products of this type. That being said, we expect to have a new product registered to fight against cole crops caterpillars within five years.
As part of its expansion plan, BioTEPP is accelerating its research activities to become a leading player in the virus-based segment to develop the many biopesticides just waiting to be discovered.
What do we need to pay attention to when using such viral bio-pesticides?
As with any other pesticides, a proper amount, good distribution of product on foliage and good timing with pest development stages are important. Rotation of pesticide product families is also becoming something to think about to prevent pests’ resistance to bio-pesticides.
Timing of the application is often earlier than for common pesticides. It has to be made at the beginning of the development of the pest population.
A minimum amount is required. A good coverage of fruit tree foliage is important, which means good volume, good speed of application for a good distribution of product on foliage. Having a low residual, the product tends to be more effective when used by multiple small doses that are sprayed on trees at the beginning of the hatching period.
With time, growers have come to know how to use these products and rely on them to protect their crops. They have also learned that they need to use these products in an integrated pest management (IPM) program to get the full value of these bio-based products.
What are main markets for BioTEPP? Does BioTEPP have plan to find agent or distributors in other countries? What is the standard for choosing a distributor or agent?
VirosoftTM CP4 is registered and sold in Canada and the US. Our main markets for now are Canada and the US Northwest Coast, specifically Washington and Oregon, the two states that produce the most apples in the US. We are actively looking to expand our sales to Central and Eastern US, California and abroad.
For maximum efficiency in getting VirosoftTM CP4 in grower’s hands, BioTEPP has a marked preference for local retailer/distributors with a technical support attitude and a strong desire to promote bio-tech products.