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Regulatory changes expected to restrict smaller companies’ ability to provide beneficial microbes

While early 2020 cast a dismal outlook for Green Search Inc., the biotech company quickly bounced back amid the pandemic and finished the year with its high revenues yet. According to Remco Kostwinder, president of Green Search Inc., “The magic was in being flexible and seeing where we could fit in the changing industry.”

Green Search Inc. is a biotech company established in 2013 which develops and distributes beneficial microbes, also called plant probiotics, for various sectors including agriculture, horticulture, water treatment and the remediation of oil spills. The company is headquartered in Cottam, Ontario and has subsidiaries in the Netherlands (Green Search Europe) and Brazil (Green Search Brazil). With the Netherlands being at the forefront of horticultural technologies, Green Search’s presence in Europe allows the company to work with the industry’s frontrunners to continue developing and gaining credibility. The Brazilian market for beneficial microbes is still emerging and allows Green Search Inc. to better serve South America. The company also has strong relationship with Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, and has trials underway in the country. Green Search currently sells its products in the United States, Canada, Turkey, Brazil and the Netherlands. 

The company’s flagship product is Bio Green Tab, a fast-dissolving tablet consisting of beneficial bacteria. The probiotics work to increase plants’ natural resistance to diseases. Bio Green Tab has proven successful in field-based agriculture, greenhouses and for cannabis production. Since its establishment in 2013, Green Search Inc. has also released other beneficial fungi and other microbial products from partner companies to improve plant health and productivity.

In 2019, Green Search Inc. also began consulting for industry input providers, which then constituted a significant part of the company’s activity in 2020. Remco spent much of 2020 running R&D trials with different products to advise both growers and providers on best practices for plant probiotic use. Green Search Inc. has also recently partnered with a Dutch company to produce organic NPK fertilizers.

“Nutrient availability in organic fertilizers is typically low compared to synthetic fertilizers, so this partnership will bring organic fertilizers with readily available nutrients to the market. The primary benefit will be to finally enable organic to attain yields comparable to conventional system,” explains Remco.

While interest in beneficial microbes has increased over the years, recent regulatory changes are expected to restrict smaller companies’ ability to provide these products. In 2019, the EU started to discuss changes to registration requirements which would effectively require Bacillus microbe-based products to be registered as pesticides by 2022. This, according to Remco, has greatly disadvantaged smaller companies. While larger companies have the human and financial resources to register their products as pesticides, smaller companies may struggle throughout the registration process, which takes 2–3 years between initial registration, review and acceptance. By 2022, the use of unregistered products will be prohibited. While this all appears straightforward, Remco explains that the specifics of the new regulations are unclear. In order to remain competitive with larger companies, some smaller companies are joining under a single umbrella.

Addressing concerns over the new regulations, Remco advised that “companies should not get stuck in what they are currently doing; we should see where we can build bridges between companies. Even more growers are joining corporations with other growers, seed companies, transportation and distribution channels.”

In 2021, Green Search Inc. plans to continue capitalizing on strategic partnerships, to release two new products and to continue consulting.

For more information:
Remco Kostwinder
Green Search Inc.