In many families the secret recipe of a special family dish is passed from one generation to another orally to avoid the recipes or family secrets from getting out.
It’s the combination that matters
The same principle may apply here to biostimulants. Just like a cooking recipe, it is the combination of ingredients, and not the specific ingredients themselves, that make the final product unique and effective. Since manufacturers are rarely able to patent biostimulant products it is important that they are not forced to reveal their “recipes” and “manufacturing secrets” to the market.
If manufacturers are obliged to provide an exhaustive list of ingredients on a product label, it will become a piece of cake (literally!) for competitors to copy products immediately. Clearly this is a disincentive to innovation.
Providing the right information at the right time
Biostimulant manufacturers are committed to ensuring the safety and health of farmers, consumers and society at large. Providing the complete product formula to the notifying body, when products are submitted for assessment, is a normal part of this process. Likewise, the same level of in-depth information should be provided to member states during market surveillance. Full disclosure would also be appropriate in the context of a specific certification process, such as organic farming.
The information provided on the label is a different issue. Farmers or end users must know the basic ingredients within a product to be able to distinguish between one product and another. Listing the complete formula with proportions of all ingredients would reveal the competitive advantage and undermine innovation.
Respecting trade secrets
Respecting manufacturers’ trade secrets is also in keeping with the EU Directive 2016/943, approved by both the European Parliament and Council in June 2016. This directive openly recognizes that confidential business information and knowledge are the raw materials of the new economy.