Exclusive Interview with Paul Reibach, Smithers Viscient

Smithers Viscient: What do you think is the biggest challenge with incorporating biologicals into the Agricultural market?

Paul Reibach: Two factors are key to the registration of any biological.  Efficacy is one factor. If, for example, the biological is a pesticide it must control the intended pest. This factor is somewhat market driven as growers will not utilize a product that does not perform well and provide them with an economic return on investment. The second factor is safety. The biological must be safe based on the registration requirements of the various global regulatory authorities. This is perhaps currently the biggest challenge a manufacturer faces. Understanding the regulatory requirements and conducting the studies required is a challenge. 

Smithers Viscient: What are some of the best innovations that you’ve seen with biologicals, recently?

Paul Reibach: As a plant biologist I am fascinated by the natural defenses organisms have towards one another. Since I first read about allelopathy, organismal chemical warfare, as an undergraduate I have always been interested in the chemistry involved.  As you know a many great pesticides and pharmaceutical have their origins from natural products. When used as part of an IPM program biologicals are a great tool.

Smithers Viscient: Why is RNAi is important for biologicals?

Paul Reibach: In a sense RNAi is one of the more recent tool in the biopesticide arsenal. RNAi will also be important for improving crop traits such as nutritional composition, drought tolerance, an nutrient utilization to name a few. Since RNAi is based on naturally occurring processes found in all eukaryotic organisms, the potential use of this tool seems limitless for modifying gene expression at the translation stage.

Smithers Viscient: There is a lot going on in the Agricultural Chemistry industry with biologicals. What are the biggest trends to keep an eye on?

Paul Reibach: As biologicals become more and more mainstream as tools in agricultural production the regulatory and safety assessment aspects will become more refined. Keeping up to date with these regulations will be key to rapid product registration.

Smithers Viscient: What are you most looking forward to hearing at AgChem 2018: Regulations for Biologicals?

Paul Reibach: I am excited to hear regulatory strategies from  various stakeholders such as USDA, EPA, private industry, and academia.

Smithers Viscient: Why should people attend AgChem 2018: Regulations for Biologicals?

Paul Reibach: It is critical to keep up with the rapid advancements in the science and regulatory aspects of biologicals.  AgChem 2018 provides a forum whereby a variety of stakeholders can meet and share experiences.