JUNE 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 49 THE MODERN CROP-chemical reg- istration process limits the number of available seed treatment tools and makes stewardship of existing tools even more important. By itself, seed treatment is a relatively small part of the overall global crop- protection market. The cost to develop a chemical for seed treatment alone would be prohibitively expensive. The expense and time to develop a new chemical pesticide — now estimated at $250 -$300 million and more than 10 years from labo- ratory to sale and distribution — requires wide market appeal for a manufacturer to achieve an acceptable ROI. On top of the ever-increasing cost for new chemistry approval, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is deep in the process of reevaluating existing active ingredients which have been in use for many years. As part of this process, EPA looks at the current state of science, requires new studies, and finally re-screens all existing chemicals using new methods to estimate the risk from ongoing use. The reevaluation process culminates in an updated risk-benefit con- clusion for each chemical. The EPA’s risk-benefit analysis relies, in part, on computer models that simulate exposure to the chemical on several cat- egories, such as honeybees foraging near a field being planted with treated seed, birds that may be exposed to treated seed left on open ground and farmers who load a planter with treated seed. Manufacturers bear the cost of defending seed treatment chemicals. The reevaluation process requires EPA to examine all incidents that have been reported during the past 10-15 years from Limited Seed Treatment Tools Increase Importance of Stewardship NATHAN EHRESMAN, SENIOR REGULATORY SCIENTIST, NUFARM AMERICAS @NufarmUS • nathan.ehresman@nufarm.com • nufarm.com alleged exposure to the chemical during its use. This is why stewardship and use in a manner that prevents unintended expo- sure is so very important to the future of seed treatments. If a seed treatment product would be withdrawn from the market following EPA’s reevaluation, there are few products in the development pipeline to replace it. Because of the high cost for new registration and reevaluations, there is increasing interest by manufacturers in biologicals since the time needed to develop these products for seed treat- ment is much shorter. One of the down- sides is that biorational products are very specific in their use spectrum often tar- geting a limited range of pests, while con- ventional chemicals have much broader utility but face more intense scrutiny now and in the future. I AM OFTEN asked how I ended up starting a software company for plant breeding. Honestly, it was never my plan, even for a second, but looking back, I can identify the critical moments. When we do such reflec- tion, we can be surprised by what we see, and better still, learn to identify such pivotal moments or events for our future. Here’s my story, even if it seems somewhat unbelievable. I grew up on a dairy farm in east- ern Ontario, so “agriculture was in my DNA.” My university career started at the University of Waterloo in mathematics and computer science, but a year later I switched to the University of Guelph into Crop Science. Back to my roots, you might say. After my second year, I again needed a summer job and decided to visit the professors in Crop Science to see if there were any summer positions. Three Minutes with Professor Hunt I happened to visit Professor Tony Hunt in his office. I told him I had stud- ied math and computer science at the University of Waterloo and was now in his Crop Science program. He asked if I could possibly write a system on the IBM Mainframe (no PCs in the 1970s!) to handle his winter wheat breeding pro- gram. I said “Yes,” not fully knowing what was involved. He immediately hired me for the summer. The entire “interview” was less than three minutes, but it landed me a summer job for a few years and one-year fulltime to develop what was published internally in 1978 as “The Wheat Data Base System” – perhaps one of the first such systems ever developed. Those were the days of keypunch machines and boxes of keypunch cards all read by a card reader. It was cutting edge at the time, but now I think of it as “Neanderthal computing.” After a two-year career detour, I was again thinking of a job in comput- ers and agriculture. I decided to write to the agriculture faculties in Canada to inquire if there was a job in programming in any of their departments. I received several rejection letters, except from the University of Saskatchewan, Crop Science Dept. that offered me sight unseen a job as a programmer to develop a plant breeding software system for all the crops in the department. I just had to phone and accept the job, which I gladly did, and we moved to Saskatoon, Sask. The job was great. To learn about Dieter Mulitze’s next pivotal moment that occurred on Eastern Airlines Flight 155 from Montreal, Can., to Atlanta, Ga., go to Seed World INSIDERS online www.seedworld.com/insiders. A Three-Minute Interview and Flight 155: Pivotal Career Moments DIETER MULITZE, AGRONOMIX PRESIDENT, CEO AND FOUNDER @Agronomix • mulitze@agronomix.com • agronomix.com