Belgian pioneer Biobest is one of the leaders in biological cannabis crop protection

13/12/2019 - The use of medicinal cannabis is on the rise world-wide. To keep the cannabis crops pure, strict regulations apply, so chemical pesticides are certainly a no-go. That is how the Belgian expert in biological crop protection, Biobest, has developed into a leading global actor in the protection of cannabis crops.

In Canada, it has been legal to grow cannabis for medicinal use since 2001. And in recent years, more and more American states have been giving the crop the green light. Europe is more reticent, although in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, a window of opportunity is slowly opening.

No matter where medicinal cannabis becomes legal, growers must adhere to strict regulations and undergo equally strict inspections. Scientific research shows that pharmaceutical products made from cannabis are an effective pain reliever and can even have beneficial results in the treatment of disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. But to make the active, healing substances in cannabis as effective as possible, it is crucial that the cannabis crop is as pure as possible. That is why chemical pesticides are strictly forbidden in cannabis crops and why biological crop protection is essential. The Belgian company Biobest supports growers globally in keeping their cannabis crops free of residue and in complying with these strict regulations.

No plan B

Biobest was the first company to use bumblebees to pollinate commercial fruits and vegetable crops thirty years ago. From its start as a producer of bumblebees, Biobest has grown into an international pioneer in biological crop protection. It has now used this experience to support cannabis growers in Canada and other countries. “Growers originally thought that by growing cannabis in enclosed spaces – or so-called growth chambers – they could keep the pests that ravage other crops out,” explains Sam Gui, IPM and Pollination Specialist at Biobest. “But these pests – such as spider mites, aphids or thrips - always end up finding their way inside, by way of the growers themselves, for example. And because the use of pesticides is prohibited, biological protection is the only option for safeguarding the cannabis plants. There is no plan B.”

Biobest is one of the world’s leading providers of biological protection for cannabis crops. The Belgian company has experts who support growers locally, but the majority of the company’s R&D takes place in the Kempen region of Belgium.

Sam has seen the biological protection of cannabis crops evolve from a complete overkill strategy into a preventive solution. “We have a great deal of trial and errorunder our belts. We always develop a specific approach tailored to the grower; sometimes these are full-scale plant nurseries with large greenhouses, but they can also just as easily be smaller craft growers. The plants are different, the conditions vary ... We can’t just copy the approach used for other crops."

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