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Phero Tech Inc.

Phero Tech develops and supplies semiochemical products to help manage pest and beneficial insects and mammals. Semiochemicals are naturally occurring "message bearing chemicals" used by insects, mammals, and other organisms to communicate with each other and to perceive their environment. Synthetic semiochemicals can be used to attract or repel pests. Three key use strategies for semiochemical-based products have surfaced after over five decades of research and development (Phero Tech has been there for almost 20 of those years):

1. Quarantine - e.g. early detection of non-indigenous pests (traps to capture elm bark beetle (Scolytus multistriatus) in western Canada and to detect the European spruce beetle (Ips typographus) at ports of entry ill Canada and the us).

2. Monitoring - e.g. detection of indigenous and established pests to aid control efforts (bertha army worm trapping in Canadian canola fields, and monitoring of codling moth in many apple and pear producing areas).

3. Direct Control - e.g. manipulating the behaviour of pest or beneficial organism (antiaggregation of the Douglas-fir beetle (a damaging trees pest) in the western US, improving pollination of orchards by honey bees and deterring herbivores and rodents from feeding on tree seedlings).

Semiochemical products consist of the active ingredients, associated stabilizers and the release device or formulation that emits the actives at the desired rate over the required field life span. Attractant lures can be used in associated products such as sticky paper or reusable plastic traps to capture attracted flying insects. Repellents typically do not employ associated products. Phero Tech has found it necessary to concentrate on all aspects of this technology from chemical synthesis and trap design to field implementation.

Our chemical synthetic and formulation efforts have concentrated on monoterpenes (e.g. trans-verbenol), branched/cyclic ketals (e.g. frontalin) and long chain (C12-C21) unsaturated/oxygenated aliphatics (e.g. ZZ 3,13 octadienyl acetate). We have become noted for our. capabilities to synthesize structural and isomeric semiochemicals of high purity (e.g. + and - ipsdienol).

Formulation attempts to achieve consistent semiochemical release throughout the desired field life. A variety of release systems have been developed using solid matrices based on urethane, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene and others. The resident release device library has grown to over 600 devices.

We maintain a staff of four chemist/formulators involved in synthesis and lure development. State of the art GC, HPLC and computerized support are in-house. Additional staff involved in field testing, marketing, production, financing and administration complete the development team.

A continuing strength for Phero Tech has been our close association with university and government research and extension personnel such as Simon Fraser University, the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the United States Forest Service, and the Science Council of British Columbia.

Field proven devices are produced by a four member core manufacturing team (with seasonal increases) operating in close concert with the chemist/formulators. Quality control and compliance, batch tracking and a myriad of shipping complications complete an otherwise challenging day.

Phero Tech employs Canadians (22 at last count) and markets its products and services worldwide. Over 50 Canadian.foresters, chemists, agrologists and biologists have cut their early career teeth at our proving ground. Currently, the professional staff includes eight MSc and four BSc graduates.

Phero Tech is well positioned to be a key supplier of the worldwide expanding semiochemical product market due mainly to an increase in integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated resource management (IRM). However, our future is critically linked to investments in research and development. Federal and provincial government financial participation is equally critical to the successful outcome. Competition, south of the Canadian border and in Europe, benefits from a vigorous investment in IPM and IRM.

A starting point, for our federal government, would be to streamline Scientific Research and Development (SRED) tax recovery for companies that have an established research track record. Also, governments need to reinvest in our country's research facilities including universities. The notion that the private sector can replace lagging federal and provincial investment is not sound. Further, governments should increase their support of applied research conducted by the private sector. Current attitudes reflect an erroneous idea that the only beneficiary of technical development is the corporation spearheading the development. In most, if not all situations, the Canadian public also benefits.

Stephen Burke is the general manager at Phero Tech Inc. in Delta, BC. You can find the Phero Tech website at
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Author:Burke, Stephen
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Company Profile
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 1999
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