Innovative Natural Fertilizer and Pesticide Solutions for Multiple Crops
This MustGrow Biologics profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
MustGrow Biologics Corp. (CSE:MGRO) is an agricultural biotech company focused on developing and commercializing its unique natural biopesticide that acts as a pesticide, fumigant, fertilizer, nematocide and fungicide. Targeting the fruit, vegetable and cannabis industries, MustGrow has designed an organic solution that uses the mustard seed’s natural defense mechanisms to protect plants from pests and diseases.
Brassica plants, a genus within the mustard family, have been found to have organic compounds that can positively benefit agricultural production. As Canada produces 28 percent of the global mustard crop, MustGrow has access to a vast source of its base material.
Making use of the plant’s applications, the MustGrow product has been tested on fruit and vegetables in 110 different trials and has been proven to protect the plant from a number of soil-borne fungal diseases and pests including nematodes, Fusarium, Verticillium, and Pythium. MustGrow is also potentially effective in preventing a number of other soil-borne pests and diseases, including spider mites and gnats, but further tests are needed.
Moving beyond the fruit and vegetable sphere, the company is looking to ascertain its product’s potential as a pre-plant soil sterilizer for cannabis crops that can remove any pre-existing insects or fungi. As the cannabis market in North America continues its exponential growth spurred by the legalization of medicinal cannabis and (in some states) the recreational market, the industry is becoming an exciting market opportunity for MustGrow’s natural and organic product. The company is also looking into the product’s potential in the tobacco industry.
Having first created a granular product, MustGrow has now developed a liquid version that can be easily delivered to plants via existing drip systems. This new liquid form of the product will have to be tested again to confirm its efficacy and minimum usage rates. To this aim, the company has recently launched an R&D program with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to test on several fungi and diseases that affect fruit, vegetables and cannabis, with the aim of applying for Health Canada and US EPA approval for use on cannabis, fruits and vegetables once the program is complete.
MustGrow is led by a management team that brings extensive experience in the biotechnology and agriculture fields. As it looks towards entering the cannabis industry, it has brought on strategic board members like Tom Flow. Flow is the founder and president of The Flowr Corporation, a Health Canada-approved cannabis facility partnered with Scotts Miracle Gro, a large supplier of soil and grow materials playing a role in the cannabis sector. Flow also built MedReleaf in 2014, which is one of Canada’s most profitable licensed producers with a $1 billion market cap.
MustGrow Biologics’ Company Highlights
- Proprietary natural, organic biopesticide solution for addressing pests and diseases in tobacco, cannabis, fruit and vegetable crops.
- 110 independent 3rd party trials conducted in fruit and vegetables, determining protection from a number of soil-borne pests and fungal diseases including nematodes, pythium and fusarium.
- EPA approval across all key US states as a biofertilizer and biopesticide (currently limited to fertilizer in California).
- Health Canada designation as a fruit and vegetable biofertilizer and biopesticide.
- Developed a liquid format of tested product in response to market demand.
- According to Fortune Business Insights, the growing global biopesticide market could be worth US$10.19 billion by the end of 2025.
- Experienced management team supported by director Tom Flow, who brings vast cannabis sector experience.
A key success factor for crop production is tied with protecting plants from pests and diseases that have the capacity to bring down the whole crop. With this in mind, MustGrow has designed and developed a granular pre-plant soil biofumigant based on non-synthetic AITC (allyl isothiocyanate) from mustard seed.
Having first developed it as a granular product, the company is now responding to market demands and designed a liquid concentrate delivery platform, which allows producers to deliver the solution at a much more concentrated level through drip irrigation. Having already conducted extensive testing of its granular product, the company is now turning its attention to testing its liquid formulation. In parallel, the company also intends to test the applicability of MustGrow’s products as a natural pre-plant soil treatment for the cannabis industry.
MustGrow has also been granted exclusive access to Triangle Plant Sciences’ TP-1000 nutrient technology solution. Through the agreement, TP-1000 has been made available through MustGrow’s distribution network in Canada and abroad. TP-1000 is a cannabis fertility enhancement product has been shown by 3rd party studies to increase yield by approximately 5 percent, THC levels by approximately 5 percent and terpene levels by approximately 15 percent.
Fruit and vegetable market
Traditional solutions for fertilizers and pesticides in the fruit and vegetable market have faced significant industry shifts in the last few years. Consumer demand has shifted towards organic and natural products, with particular interest in reducing the amount of pesticides used in crops. These environmental and health pressures by consumers have resulted in regulators restricting or outlawing existing synthetic chemical solutions that might be harmful to consumers.
One example of a particularly harmful pest is the nematode, which has affected crops on a global scale. Producing an average yield loss of between 10 percent and 20 percent for the cultivations they affect, soil-borne nematodes result in approximately $100 billion in losses worldwide. Despite the costly effects of this pest, there is a growing trend for regulators to take aggressive stances against nematicides, leaving a gap in the market for natural solutions like MustGrow.
Following the development of its granular MustGrow product, the company spent approximately $9 million to conduct 110 trials on fruit and vegetables. This testing demonstrated that the product is capable of mitigating conditions such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Verticillium, Fusarium and nematodes. It can also potentially assist in reducing spider mites, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, grey mold and other fungal pathogens.
Addressing the cannabis industry
Like any other crop, cannabis plants are prone to pests and diseases that can spread at a rapid rate. However, Health Canada has established a set of guidelines outlining mandatory testing for pesticide active ingredients in cannabis products. In order to meet Health Canada’s guidelines, companies must demonstrate that no unauthorized pesticide ingredients are present in their products.
Excessive pesticide use is particularly dangerous in concentrate extraction—which is done for the production of edibles, topical products and inhalants—as pesticide residues can accumulate up to 10 times more than the flower itself. Issues around pesticide tainting have led patients who unknowingly consumed banned pesticides to propose class-action suits against licensed cannabis producers.
Following the guidelines established by Health Canada, MustGrow is working toward developing a reliable, safe and biodegradable solution for cannabis crops. MustGrow is positioning its product as an effective pre-plant soil reducing the chance for any added soil to bring in pests or diseases.
The company expects its pesticide to help licensed producers control the same conditions addressed in fruit and vegetable crops, and potentially help control for pests, such as hemp mites. To prove this, MustGrow plans to run cannabis soil trials, which will be conducted by infecting the soil and applying the product to determine its efficacy. So far, the company has partnered with the NRC to test the efficacy of its natural biopesticide as a pre-plant, pre-pot soil treatment for soil-borne pests and diseases that affect cannabis production. The program is looking at some of the top diseases including powdery mildew, Biytrius, which causes gray mold or bud rot, and Fusarium or root rot.
MustGrow has applied for Health Canada approval for cannabis to be added to its first-generation label. Once approval has been received, the company intends to apply its liquid formula for vegetables and cannabis.
Tobacco Industry Applications
In 2010, MustGrow and Virginia Tech teamed up to test the safety and efficacy of MustGrow’s patented granular organic bio-pesticide as a natural pre-plant soil treatment. The R&D program targeted tobacco nematodes, which can be found on four continents. One form of nematode, known as G. t. solanacearum (Gts nematodes), is one of the most damaging disease problems of flue-cured tobacco in Virginia, reducing state-wide tobacco production by an estimated two percent each year.
MustGrow and Virginia Tech compared Gts nematode reproduction on flue-cured tobacco in soil treated with MustGrow’s formulated mustard meal to that treated with standard nematicides. The program was able to demonstrate the efficacy of its product in reducing nematode densities when compared to other leading pesticide treatments. The company’s first-generation granular product was able to achieve significantly lower nematode densities for all rates of MustGrow’s natural granular product above 500 pounds per acre.
Building off the results of its natural granular product, MustGrow plans on testing its second-generation liquid technology on nematode populations. From there, the company intends to seek the required approvals so tobacco growers can use the product.
MustGrow’s Management Team
Brad Munro, BComm—Chairman
Brad Munro has spent over 20 years as a VP, Investments with a national venture capital firm where he sourced, invested, and managed the activity of over 30 companies and invested $150MM. He has also served as a director of over 20 public companies and a greater number of private enterprises since 1993. Currently, he is the chairman and interim CEO of Zedcor Energy Service and Director of Secure Energy Services.
Corey Giasson, MBA, BSc—President, CEO and Director
Corey Giasson has over 20 years of agriculture experience and B.Sc. Ag Economics from the University of Saskatchewan. He was previously co-founder, president, CEO & director of Rallyemont Energy Inc, which identified 140 MMbbls of recoverable heavy oil and sold to Husky Energy in 2013. Another previous role was that of vice president, business development & investor relations at Anglo Potash Ltd., which was sold to BHP in 2008. He was also once a manager of market research at PotashCorp.
Colin Bletsky, BSA — COO
Colin Bletsky was a previous vice president, BioAg at Novozymes where he is responsible for the BioAg business worldwide. He has over 20 years of experience in agriculture, he has been involved in marketing and sales in many managerial positions. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan.
Tom Flow is the founder and current president of The Flowr Corporation. He is also the founder and builder of MedReleaf in 2014, Canada’s most profitable licensed producer (current market cap of over $1 billion). He is an advisor to Plant Properties, a REIT focusing on cannabis operations. He is widely-recognised for cannabis thought leadership and expertise building and operating cannabis cultivation facilities.
Matt Kowalski is the principal of Stronghold Keep Inc. He is also the co-owner of the Kowaltek Restaurant Group and a director at VRM Labs. His past experience includes having been president and CEO at Natural Industries from 2002 to 2012, as well as global market manager at Bio Control, Novozymes BioAg.
Brian Quigley – Director
Brian Quigley brings over 20 years of regulatory expertise, brand building, marketing and operations experience to MustGrow. He is a proven leader in navigating complex regulatory environments for novel and innovative products. Quigley most recently spent 16 years at Altria Group, with seven of those years spent as president and CEO for US Smokeless Tobacco and Nu-Mark, Altria’s innovation company. In his time at Altria, he spearheaded harm reduction strategies and worked to deliver results by creating change in the tobacco business in North America.
Prior to Altria, Quigley held branding and leadership roles with several companies including Pinnacle Foods Corporation, International Home Foods (which is now part of ConAgra Inc.) and within the advertising industry. He has launched dozens of new products, created consumer-focused innovation strategies and built businesses and cultures that deliver results. After filling investing and strategic advisory roles in cannabis over the last four years, he formed Green Sky Strategy with other cannabis community leaders to create the first cannabis strategy team that combines deep cannabis industry and consumer experience with proven Fortune 500 strategic thinking. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Quigley serves on the board of the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation and on the board of trustees of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.
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