Label expansion: why minor use is a big deal

July 20, 2018
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Palladium fungicide was recently approved for a minor use label expansion in Canada. But what does that mean?

Previously registered for use against powdery mildew on outdoor ornamentals and some greenhouse vegetable diseases, the label expansion allows for use against additional diseases in greenhouse and outdoor ornamentals.

According to Cary Gates, pest management director at Flowers Canada Growers, minor use registrations are intended to help growers gain access to newer, safer and more effective tools.

“The reason they wouldn't have access to them is largely because the companies that register pest management tools often focus on the really large acreage crops,” says Gates. “This makes sense as the cost to register a pesticide is really high and the process is somewhat unique in Canada.”

Given that, it makes sense for a company to target crops grown in large acreages (such as corn, soy, canola and wheat) to get their return on investment, he adds.

“This isn't to say that the pesticide companies deliberately overlook smaller crops,” says Gates, “but because there are so many small niche crops out there it is overwhelming, expensive and time consuming to register products for everything grown in Canada.”

Hence, grower associations can help expand a pesticide label to include minor crops grown by their members. And in this case, Flowers Canada Growers did so for flowers.

“Minor use projects can only be submitted to Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency by a province (through a commodity group sponsor), by the federal minor use program at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada's Pest Management Centre and by registrants of pest control products,” notes Jim Chaput, provincial minor use coordinator at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “A number of criteria have to be met for a minor use submission to be prioritized and then submitted depending upon data requirements, registrant support and the level of need.”

It also helps when the government is supportive of these efforts.

“Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) are supportive of minor use crop representatives using relatively low cost approaches to getting new tools,” says Gates, and through the hard work of provincial minor use coordinators (PMUC) across Canada like Jim Chaput, we are able to do this.

At a time where many pesticides are leaving the market due to re-evaluations, Gates expresses his gratitude towards companies like Syngenta, who continue to support farmers in minor use projects like these. Pesticides are often registered abroad before Canada, potentially creating a competitive disadvantage to their farmers.

“This helps Canadian farmers compete on a global level,” he says.

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