MUSTGROW: A BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANY DISRUPTING THE INDUSTRY
The world’s population is growing, and food producers are increasingly looking for safer ways to produce enough food to keep up. People are demanding alternatives to some of the harmful chemicals that we currently rely on, advocating for the health of people and the planet over the efficacy of these chemicals.
We in Canada, and more specifically Saskatchewan, have a huge stake in finding sustainable pesticide and herbicide alternatives for large-scale agriculture. Saskatchewan is the leading exporter of canola, flaxseed, durum wheat, peas, lentils, and oats. We also lead in the production and research of pulses including chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas. Our province and country need more sustainable options if we’re to continue growing enough food to feed the world.
Why Does the Agriculture Industry Need to Shift?
Growers have been producing more and more food since the dawn of agriculture to keep up with population demand. They have honed systems and technologies that work to grow large-scale crops for worldwide exportation. So why do we need a change?
Well, synthetic chemicals are a part of these finely-tuned agriculture practices that work to feed 8 billion people. They keep the weeds and pests at bay to allow huge expanses of crops to grow effectively. Without these chemicals, crop yields would be inadequate; crops would be overpowered by weeds, fungi, insects, and more.
Organic agriculture is an ideal model, growing food without the use of any synthetic chemicals at all. However, organic farms only made up 3.3% of total Canadian farms in 2021. While most would consider this version of farming far more optimal in terms of sustainability and safety, it’s simply not yet widely adoptable. Without the use of synthetic pesticides, organic yields are lower—too low to feed the world.
The Banning of Synthetic Chemicals
In Canada, pesticides are regulated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). This organization walks the line between protecting the health of people and the planet, while supporting the agriculture industry in Canada. According to regulations, once a chemical is registered by the PMRA, it is available to be used within its jurisdiction.
However, here and across the world, some of these synthetic chemicals are being restricted, deregistered, and banned.
For example, the chemical imidacloprid has become highly restricted in Canada, meaning it must be sprayed within buffer zones and may not be sprayed around sensitive areas. Other chemicals—such as the pesticide chlorpyrifos—are slowly being phased out in response to evidence of health risks associated with contact.
What will take their place? We still have 8 billion people to feed. What if we told you we’re finding ways to balance both sides: the health of people and the planet AND the health of the crops.
How Is MustGrow Making a Difference?
MustGrow was created in response to this perfect storm of factors in the agriculture industry: growing public demand for safe food production, the banning and deregistering of harmful chemicals, and an increasing global population. Our goal is to disrupt the global crop pesticide market by developing effective greener options.
Sustainable practices are non-negotiable as we move forward. We have finite productive land to draw resources from, and when we shower it with harmful chemicals, we degrade its health and ability to provide. MustGrow recognized the need for efficacious solutions and harnessed the mustard seed to make it happen.
What Are MustGrow’s Biotechnologies?
We are developing several biotechnologies from the mustard seed—preplant soil biofumigant, postharvest food preservation, and bioherbicide—that are effective and safe for organic use.
Mustard is from the Brassica plant family, along with horseradish, wasabi, and broccoli. All plants from this family contain the organosulfur compound allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) that acts as natural pest and disease management. We have also extracted a second compound from the mustard seed, ionic thiocyanate (SCN-), that has the potential to work as an effective bioherbicide.
MustGrow’s Partners and Trials
At this point, over 150 trials of our biotechnologies have been completed, showing that our technologies have the potential to compete on effectiveness, efficiency, and price. We have partnered with global agriculture companies to complete the latest rounds of these trials and support the potential commercialization of our technologies.
We are working with Bayer to fund and drive work for future commercialization in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. Currently, we are completing field trials of our preplant soil fumigation, bioherbicide, and postharvest food preservation with them.
Janssen PMP has been instrumental in funding and driving testing and development work globally. With their help, we are testing postharvest storage preservation and shipping container fumigation of fruits and vegetables.
Sumitomo Corporation funds and drives development work for commercialization in the Americas. Together, we are doing field trials on our preplant soil fumigation, bioherbicide, and postharvest food preservation in potatoes and bananas.
Lastly, NexusBioAg is helping us in Canadian canola and pulse crops, and has initiated a field research trial program for our technologies.
With every trial, test, and partner we get closer to our goal: MustGrow’s technology as natural, safe options for growers everywhere. We strongly believe that there is a way to feed the growing world safely, naturally, and effectively. Let’s all work towards an improved agriculture industry. If you’re interested in investing in our mission, take a look at our investor resources, and reach out—we’d love to answer any questions.