Information Note: Vertical farming and pest control products
The purpose of this information note is to advise growers and other stakeholders that there are no pest control products (also known as pesticides) currently registered or authorized for use in Canada for what is commonly referred to as "vertical farming".
A vertical farm produces crops grown:
- in appropriate media, for instance hydroponically, aeroponically or in soil; and
- indoors on vertically stacked or inclined layers and/or integrated in other vertical structures, and
- relies solely or largely on artificial lighting.
This differs from greenhouse growing, for which there are registered pest control products. In a greenhouse, plants are generally grown in a single layer on horizontal benches, containers or troughs placed on the ground, relying largely on natural sunlight.
As a relatively new method of crop production there is currently little available data on vertical farming production systems. To date, Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has not received any applications with data to support the registration and use of pest control products in vertical farming.
Under the Pest Control Products Regulations, directions for the use of each pest control product, including any limitations on its use and procedures to reduce risks associated with that use, must be included on the product label.
Sufficient data to assess the hazards and risks associated with vertical farming, such as occupational and dietary exposure risks and the fate of the pest control product in the environment after application, will need to be assessed by PMRA.
Until such data is submitted and assessed, and vertical farming production use is included on a pesticide label, the use of pest control products in vertical farming is not permitted under the Pest Control Products Act.
In the interim, the PMRA is working with stakeholders to understand the conditions of vertical farming and other factors necessary to assess risks to ensure that pesticide use in vertical farming production systems will be safe for human health and the environment.
Parties interested in using pest control products in vertical farm production systems are encouraged to work with pesticide manufacturers to express interest regarding the addition of such a use to the label of a currently registered product, or in registering a specific pesticide use.
Stakeholders may also engage with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Pest Management Centre and/or their Provincial Minor Use Coordinator to discuss the potential of adding such a use under the User Requested Minor Use Label Expansion (URMULE) program.
In addition, the PMRA offers a free pre-submission consultation service that provides regulatory guidance to registrants prior to the submission of an application. For information on submitting an application to add the use of pest control products for vertical farming purposes, registrants may request a pre-submission consultation by contacting the PMRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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