Dis­cov­ery of a pes­ti­cide — from lab to la­bel

The Telegram (St. John’s) - Home Buyers' Guide - - METRO REGION -

When farm­ers or home­own­ers need to con­trol pests like in­sects, dis­eases and weeds in their crops or on their prop­erty, they of­ten turn to pes­ti­cides. But few of us re­ally un­der­stand how a pes­ti­cide makes it to store shelves — a process that can take up to 10 years and cost hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

“Canada has one of the most strin­gent reg­u­la­tory sys­tems in the world. Only the prod­ucts that pose no un­ac­cept­able risk to hu­man health or the en­vi­ron­ment make it to store shelves,” ex­plains Pierre Petelle, pres­i­dent of Cro­pLife Canada, the trade as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ers, de­vel­op­ers and dis­trib­u­tors of pes­ti­cides.

Re­searchers look through thou­sands of chem­i­cals in a lab­o­ra­tory to find one they think could be­come part of an ef­fec­tive pes­ti­cide. Af­ter a chem­i­cal is iden­ti­fied, it is tested in a lab to de­ter­mine how safe it is. Once it passes through this ini­tial safety and ef­fi­cacy test, it moves onto field test­ing in small re­search plots. Here it’s deter­mined if the prod­uct will con­trol the de­sired in­sect, weed or dis­ease.

If the prod­uct passes through this phase, the next few years are then ded­i­cated to con­duct­ing the nec­es­sary tests to sat­isfy Canada’s reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments. Health Canada re­quires each new prod­uct to go through about 200 sep­a­rate tests to ex­am­ine health and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts as well as value.

On av­er­age, only one in about 1,000,000 ac­tive in­gre­di­ents makes it from the lab through to com­mer­cial­iza­tion. And the cost to man­u­fac­tur­ers to get a prod­uct from the lab to stores shelves is about $250 mil­lion. Pierre Petelle

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