Chemical pesticides have been an accepted part of the global food industry for decades. Since being introduced in the 1970s by Monsanto, products containing glyphosate have helped increase and secure the global food supply through widespread use. The chemical has become so indispensable to the industry that removing it from the agriculture system could potentially under nourish large populations. However, recent news such as reports from The National Center for Biotechnology Information that links traces of glyphosate to cancer and generate concern over how the chemical accumulates in the air, soil and water supply, has increased pressure among  the government to find alternatives to the chemical, and potentially ban its use altogether.

This increased pressure may result in glyphosate’s removal from multiple markets without an alternative ready to replace its weed-killing properties. France and Germany have plans in motion to ban all glyphosate use by 2021 and 2023, and others will likely soon follow suit. Given the fact that many of these brands are in the process of developing natural alternatives but remain in the testing phase, mass bans have the potential to negatively impact the agricultural community and crop supply sooner than we anticipated.

While natural pesticides are considered more effective and don’t leave trace amounts of chemicals in the product, it could take years to fill the demand for an alternative in the market.

As bans continue to go into effect, a natural option is needed to protect the global food supply. New companies are rising up to fill this void and some have begun to develop formulas that have shown tremendous efficacy and control of soil borne diseases and nematodes, while others have even managed to control plant deterioration. Such breakthroughs are a step towards farmers and homeowners using natural, safe and efficient products.

The future of the market is natural
With more natural products on the market, their benefits aren’t just better for the earth: BioPesticides’ current market stands at $3.6 BUSD, and is expected to grow to $10.2 BUSD by 2025. The projected market growth accounts for the expected natural products coming into the market that will have similar effects as chemicals. Currently, there are limited natural options that food producers can use to remove pests, such as insects, weeds, nematodes and disease. But those that are on the market, compete with the well-established and soon to be banned chemicals, with some already existing natural products deemed better than their toxic competition.

As more information comes to light, an increased number of renowned brands are looking for natural alternatives. Recently, the Agrochemical company Syngenta announced it is exploring natural pesticides to fill this gap in demand in the market.  As more companies aim to find a solution, there are already alternatives on the market. Mustard-seed derived products have been found be natural, science-based biological solutions that can replace synthetic chemicals used in high value crops such as fruits, vegetables, and tobacco.

Looking Ahead
As society looks for natural alternatives, producers, consumers and regulators as a whole will have to find greener options that provide cleaner food. The food industry is at a turning point and is in need of innovations in order to feed the global population safely while using natural products derived from less-synthetic chemicals that he public and the industry are demanding.

The world is headed in a greener direction, and people are much more informed about the way things affect not only their body, but the environment as a whole. The agricultural industry needs catch up quickly and innovate in order to provide a safe, stable food to feed the global population. The industry needs action now, and there are already solutions out there on the verge of transforming the way food is produced.

About the author: Colin Bletsky is chief operating officer of MustGrow Biologics Corp. He has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan, Executive education from both the London School of Business and INSEAD and is a Certified Crop Advisor. He is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.