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Sault company's insecticide approved for use.

A Sault Ste. Marie forest management company is finally going to market with an environmentally-friendly injectable insecticide to save ash trees in southwestern Ontario.

The devastation wrought by the emerald ash borer has resulted in the federal government granting special approval status to Bio-Forest Technologies Inc. to start commercially treating trees with a new pest control tool.

The product, marketed as TreeAzin, uses an active ingredient derived from the neem tree in India. It's particularly effective at killing the emerald ash borer that is decimating ash trees throughout the U.S. Midwest and has spread into southern Ontario.

TreeAzin kills the hatched larvae in the tree tissue as it begins to feed.

Pockets of infestation have been found in Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Norfolk Counties.

The only other alternative to stop the spread of infestation is to cut trees down.

"We're happy to be finally going to market," says BioForest president Joe Meating, "it's been six years."

The small nine-employee firm has been working with the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) to commercialize the formula first developed at the government forestry lab in the Sault.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources served as the company's sponsor to obtain the emergency registration from Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, followed by approval from the Ontario Pesticides Advisory Committee, thus making it legal for BioForest to sell the product.

Meating says the infestation problem is too large for his small company to offer as a service. The company plans on selling the formulation and an injector to tree care companies. His staff will provide training and tech support.

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CFS owns the formulation but BioForest has worldwide licence to register and market it. CFS receives a royalty on all sales.

The first 500-litre batch of TreeAzin is being produced in Burlington by Capo Industries. The Sault-made injectors were being shipped out to tree care companies in April.

The cost to apply the bio-insecticide ranges between $100 and $300 depending on the size of the tree.

The formulation can also be used as a preemptive vaccination dose.

Meating says a cheaper injection system could be on the store shelves for consumer use within a couple of years.

The neem formula has also worked well in field trials against more than a dozen other damaging insects, including the mountain pine beetle.

Meating says there's diminishing interest from British Columbia because of the beetle's devastating impact on forests there, but there are better prospects to stop its spread in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Closer to home, Meating has been fielding inquiries to conduct summer field trials in Sudbury where the bronze birch borer is wreaking havoc on white birch.

Beyond this emergency approval, formal federal registration to legalize the active ingredient in TreeAzin for commercial use could take another year or two.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is acting sooner and is expected to fully register the formulation this fall, says Meating, who is also pushing for organic certification.

"We're excited this year because it'll give us some sense of what the market's going to be."

There is a chemical pesticide treatment for the emerald ash borer which has been linked to declines in North American honeybee populations. From a public perception viewpoint, Meating says, "if we can come in with an organically certified option, it will be pretty attractive."

www.bioforest.ca

By IAN ROSS

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:NEWS; BioForest Technologies Inc.
Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:566
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