MustGrow Biologics COO Colin Bletsky met with INN to discuss the role organic biofertilizers play in sustainable farming practices.
MustGrow Biologics (CSE:MGRO,OTCQB:MGROF) COO Colin Bletsky recently joined the Investing News Network to discuss the state of the global agriculture industry, specifically the role organic biopesticides and biofertilizers could play in the future of sustainable farming practices.
According to Bletsky, the increasing demand for food production around the world is putting pressure on crop output, while governments and regulators are beginning to crack down on potentially hazardous chemicals. Germany, for example, recently announced it would ban glyphosate, the lead chemical in Roundup, by the end of 2023.
The increased regulation of synthetic pesticides has caused major corporations such as Bayer (ETR:BAYN,OTC Pink:BAYRY) and Syngenta to begin investing in new alternatives to synthetic chemicals as the agriculture industry works towards healthier and more sustainable inputs. Bletsky also believes that consumer demand has played a significant role in the shift towards biopesticides and sustainable solutions. As customers begin to look for healthier options, producers are catching up to the trend by deploying natural biopesticides and treatments to deliver healthier crops to these discerning customers.
Below is a transcript of our interview with MustGrow COO Colin Bletsky. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Investing News Network: Please provide our investor audience with an overview of MustGrow and its business operations.
Colin Bletsky COO MustGrow Biologics: MustGrow Biologics is an agricultural biotech company focused on providing our natural science-based biological solutions to help replace chemistries in high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables, cannabis, turf and ornamentals and other crops around the globe. Our operations are really focused on targeting the US$65 billion global pesticide market and really disrupting it. If you think about it, global pesticides are being banned or de-registered around the world. People are demanding healthier food. It’s a perfect spot for us to come in with our 100 percent owned and patented mustard-derived technology. Our technology is a natural biopesticide. It’s really targeting soil-borne pests, diseases and nematodes. It really has an opportunity to disrupt that global marketplace.
The reason we believe it has that opportunity to disrupt is based on the efficacy that our product has. We’re focused right now on North America. We’re trying to target and penetrate into the Canadian cannabis market as well as the entire North American fruit and vegetable market. We are also targeting some of the other big markets that have needs for products like ours, including the banana industry. They’re having challenges right now with a disease that is resistant to synthetic chemicals. We have a potential opportunity to see if our product is a fit to help out that marketplace. We’re also focused on targeting the non-selective herbicide market.
With our products, we have seen that we can control plants at certain stages. We have filed for patents, and we are bolstering up our data set behind that. We are focusing on that marketplace to see if we have an opportunity to essentially replace or complement products like Roundup and glyphosate around the globe. And doing this with a small capital structure. Right now, we have roughly 36 million shares outstanding, and about 14 million of those are free trading. About 22 percent of our shares outstanding are owned by management and insiders. So we are very tightly held with a good group of investors and insiders who believe in this technology.
INN: What drove you to pursue the development of organic pesticides? How did this all start?
CB: The company that Corey and I took over management, called MPT Mustard Products & Technologies, was working with this technology for years and licensed it in the US and Canada. If you think on a global scale, mustard seed has been used around the globe for centuries as a cover crop. What that means is producers would grow mustard, let the seed set and then till it into the ground and the seed would break down in the soil releasing its natural compounds. So, it’s always been used — that’s number one. The technology is there, the technology was known to work, but it just needed a lot of refinement and needed some of the business side and everything around it. That’s why we’ve driven into this marketplace. There is a large global need.
If you look at what’s happening around the globe, whether it be in the European Union, South America, North America, Asia or Africa, there’s a very big shift with producers, consumers and regulators. The entire industry is looking for products that are going to be able to help replace chemistries and help people grow a healthier, natural food source. We are very lucky to have the chemistries that we’ve had to be able to secure the food supply we’ve been able to produce. We need natural products like MustGrow’s that could help to replace chemistries. We can’t just take them out without having a good replacement. I believe we’re at the forefront of really driving this new natural marketplace with this new product.
Bayer is spending over US$5 billion over the next number of years to try to find a healthier, more natural replacement for their chemistry and for the marketplace. Syngenta is making the same announcement that they want to have more sustainable products. If you think of Corteva (NYSE:CTVA), it’s the same thing with BASF. We’re essentially at the forefront. The market is shifting this way and we were lucky that we have the data, we have the product and we now have our new generation of our liquid getting registered. We have the best of both worlds and we feel that it’s a natural fit. The marketplace is huge. The food industry and consumers want healthier, cleaner food, and it is a trend that’s been going on for years.
INN: Are you looking to partner with one of these major companies moving forward?
CB: Yes, that’s the goal. We can do a lot with our technology as a small organization, but to really drive this on a global scale, we are looking for partners and are proceeding down that path, looking for somebody to help us. This is the first stage. We have a good product with our new liquid formulation but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enhanced even more. By enhanced, I mean you can refine that molecule. I think these organizations have those capabilities, and we’re really looking forward to working with a lot of those organizations to really expand this technology. That’s what it’s about. This technology has the potential to replace chemistry. This technology has the potential to produce food in a safer, more natural way. These big organizations can potentially really help us expand this technology through a lot more uses.
INN: Why are so many farmers moving away from synthetic pesticides?
CB: If you go into the European Union, the regulating bodies are deregistering chemicals that these farmers have used in the past. So, they have to move into it. In some markets, it’s still a slower progression, but people have that appetite and do want to move in. There’s a number of different reasons why producers want to do it. Number one, they want to be working with safer products. There are products on my own farm that I will not use. I refuse to spray certain chemistries on our farm because of the toxicity profile. For myself and my brothers to be healthier, we want to move into more cleaner and natural technologies that work.
In other areas, it’s really a consumer demand that is driving it. If I look at strawberries, there are still a lot of heinous chemistries used in strawberries. If we can go and replace that, I’m going to feel good about giving my kids strawberries again and not just looking at the organic marketplaces. Across the board, we can produce healthier food. I think farmers see the market opportunity, and they want to be more sustainable, but it’s also for their health as well and their employees’ health and that’s something that I think everybody can see. Products like this can help improve people’s lives. We have a product that we can compete head-to-head versus the main chemistries on price, on efficacy, on use rate and on applications. I think we’re at the forefront of changing the way farmers will view organic products and natural products.
INN: How can the resulting crops and consumers benefit from organic pesticide options?
CB: Where a natural product can really help is the soil structure. More sustainable products and natural products act differently, even though our products still will kill disease and nematodes. It will potentially kill weeds too. Even though we’re doing that, it does have different properties and acts differently in the soil. We can’t really say that a natural product is going to be a benefit to plants more; it’s more about benefiting the person.
In some cases, natural products don’t benefit a plant because they’re not really controlling that pest or disease to the level of the chemistry; it’s the opposite effect. With our product, we’re still controlling those nasty things that are attacking a plant on a daily basis. We’re controlling the disease and we’re controlling the nematodes. As soon as you have something that comes in like a disease, it’s hard to remove it. That’s where our technology offers a big benefit over a lot of the current natural and organic products. It’s all about the end-use. It’s all about the consumer, the user and the fruiting bodies. It’s about producing healthier food and keeping that plant healthy throughout the year.
INN: Moving forward into 2020, what trends do you see informing the pesticide market?
CB: I think you are going to see even more regulation of certain chemistries. In Europe, they’re taking products off the market that are needed. You see resistance building up in crops, in disease and in insects because of overuse. The public and consumers want healthier crops. The regulators want healthier crops too and there’s a shift towards safer chemistries and less use. But we still need to produce food. We have a huge population that wants to eat more protein. Think of all the plant-based protein that’s out there, that’s driving a lot of demand as well. We need products that work that are still going to be healthier. I think you’re going to see that shift in the next year and the next five to 10 years. A lot of the large organizations are spending a lot of money like they’re planning on shifting to safer natural biopesticides like ours. I think you’re going to see a shift in more of a component in the biocontrol area than you have in the past 30 years.
INN: Is there anything else you would like to say to our audience?
CB: At MustGrow Biologics, we are unique. The reason I say we’re unique is our product. If you research and look at it, across the globe, I have not seen a natural product that actually works like chemistry. There are lots of natural products that have suppression labels. What that means is they will help to keep disease or insects or nematodes down a little bit, but they won’t control them. What makes our product unique is that we actually control them and we have over 100 independent research studies that prove this. Our product is efficacious and works just as well as chemistry at controlling soil-borne pests and disease, but it also has an extremely safe profile because of its natural property. There are a lot of natural products, but not very many of them work like a chemistry, so we are very different in that mindset. We’re really excited about the opportunity we have in front of us to create value for our organization and our shareholders, but also to change the way agriculture is done across the globe.
This interview is sponsored by MustGrow Biologics (CSE:MGRO,OTCQB:MGROF). This interview provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by MustGrow Biologics in order to help investors learn more about the company. MustGrow Biologics is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this interview.
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