The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is seeking innovative pest management solutions for quarantine and pre-shipment uses that will support many end-users in meeting phytosanitary requirements and address evolving plant health risks in Canada.

Challenge sponsor: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Funding mechanism: Grant
Opening date: July 28, 2020
Closing date: September 9, 2020, 14:00 Eastern Daylight Time


Problem statement

Plant pests, including insects, pathogens and weeds, are responsible for diminished yields and market access issues that contribute to economic losses for Canadian producers and other businesses along agriculture and forestry supply chains. Safeguarding plant health is imperative to maintaining food security, environmental sustainability and public health, and to support continued economic growth.

There is a need to leverage existing theoretical knowledge to develop cost-effective pest risk mitigation approaches that are comparable to the desirable properties of methyl bromide, but with fewer negative impacts, to support plant health stakeholders in meeting phytosanitary requirements.

Methyl bromide is a highly effective broad-spectrum treatment that can be applied to cargo, commodities, soil, and other plant and non-plant products to manage a range of pests and meet international phytosanitary requirements. However, it is currently undergoing phase-out worldwide due to its ozone-depleting properties. Research has led to the identification and development of promising methyl bromide alternatives, including chemical (e.g. fumigants, systemic pesticides, etc.) and non-chemical (e.g. physical processes — heat, cold, radiation, irradiation, controlled atmosphere etc.), but there remains a need to transfer that knowledge into a practical solution that can be successfully used in real-life applications.

While some alternatives have been adopted for specific uses, no single methyl bromide alternative offers a technically comparable broad spectrum of activity, high level of efficacy, and rapid mode of action. Many alternatives also exhibit harmful effects on the environment and human health, or have led to the development of resistance in certain pests. Additionally, several alternatives demonstrate comparable efficacy in theory, but novel tools are required to enable these solutions to work in practice. The innovative solution must be feasible for implementation based on economic and technical considerations.

Essential (mandatory) outcomes

Proposed solutions must:

  • Have the capacity to kill one or more pests that are regulated and/or of quarantine significance in Canada and/or in other countries (e.g. including, but not limited to pests that could be spread via trade pathways, such as those associated with various traded plant commodities, and “hitchhikers” found on cargo and containers like Asian gypsy moth)
  • Kill pest(s) of concern to Canada and/or other countries with efficacy that is comparable to, or greater than, that of the current gold standard fumigant (i.e. methyl bromide) for the same usage; for example, applicants could demonstrate comparable or improved efficacy against a target pest relative to methyl bromide efficacy for that specific usage via comparison to concentration-time products, lethal dose (e.g. LD99), percent mortality, and/or time to mortality
  • Not be a substance subject to phase-out of production and consumption under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
  • Offer a technically and economically feasible solution that is comparable to, or more effective than, the current gold standard fumigant methyl bromide in situations where it has historically been, and is currently used, as a treatment option, as described in the remaining Essential Outcomes
  • Be feasible and practical for one or more phytosanitary applications, such as quarantine treatment of insects on imported products or pre-shipment treatment of exports to meet requirements of the importing country.
  • Meet requirements to become commercially available for use in Canada (i.e. be eligible for product registration through expected compliance with applicable legislation such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and pest control products acts and regulations administered by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency)

Additional outcomes

The innovation should:

  • Preferably not be a chemical fumigant
  • Be at least 40% less persistent in the environment than current solutions (i.e. methyl bromide has a lifetime of 0.8 years across atmospheric, oceanic and soil sinks)
  • Not cause visible signs of phytotoxicity, including browning, if applied to live commodities that are susceptible to injury from methyl bromide fumigation (e.g. nursery stock, fruit or vegetables)