New fumigant to replace gas that damages ozone layer

09/02/04

CSIRO and the global industrial gas company the BOC Group have signed a deal to deliver to the international market a new environmentally-safe fumigant for treating soil, insect pests, weeds and diseases

CSIRO and the global industrial gas company the BOC Group have signed a deal to deliver to the international market a new environmentally-safe fumigant for treating soil, insect pests, weeds and diseases.

CSIRO and BOC have agreed to commercialise ethanedinitrile (EDN) as a fumigant to replace the ozone-depleting methyl bromide which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

EDN is a fumigant discovered by CSIRO in 1994. Field tests have shown it to be more effective than methyl bromide in treating soil, timber and imported feed for livestock.

"This agreement is a major achievement for Australia because it allows Australia to meet its obligations as a signatory to the Montreal Protocol," says Mehrdad Baghai, CSIRO's Executive Director of Business Development and Commercialisation. "This is an example of a new science industry partnership that is required for successful commercialisation."

The global market for methyl bromide is estimated to be more than $500 million. With the phase out of methyl bromide scheduled in 2006, organisations worldwide are racing to find suitable alternatives.

CSIRO Entomology Chief Dr Joanne Daly says the deal is important because methyl bromide is used to sterilise soil from insect pests, weeds and diseases before planting high value crops such as strawberries and carrots.

"In addition to being environmentally better, EDN is also more effective in penetrating soil and timber and more effective than methyl bromide in killing unwanted insects, moulds, bacteria and nematodes," says Dr Daly. "This provides CSIRO and BOC with a timely opportunity to create a multimillion dollar market for this new fumigant."

BOC Managing Director Graham Smith says, "This agreement continues a long and successful relationship of BOC and CSIRO working together to produce sustainable competitive advantages for the agricultural industry.

"BOC is moving forward with the registration of EDN within the next two months and we are in the process of finalising a supply agreement," Mr Smith says.

"Introducing EDN, initially into the South Pacific market, also satisfies the needs of growers, fumigators and producers who have been willing to participate in the development phase. This is due to the problems being experienced with many of the current replacements for methyl bromide."

Under the agreement, CSIRO will assist BOC and develop the efficacy data for the fumigant with BOC registering the product and identifying suitable manufacturers for ethanedinitrile. Both CSIRO and BOC have already received interest from a number of countries to trial and introduce applications of EDN.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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