Monday, February 27, 2012

Sensible Supervision Better than Blind Restriction on Paraquat

Paraquat is a very common herbicide in the world, but its fatal poisoning trait always arouses great concerns in the whole pesticide industry. Especially triggered by the suggestion from chemical experts of UN that paraquat dichlorid should become subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure of The Rotterdam Convention, which was mentioned in March 2011, an explosive rumor about probable restriction on paraquat by the Chinese government spreads like wildfire, and shakes every paraquat player in China, according to CCM International’s February Issue of Herbicides China News.

Because of the frequent occurrence of paraquat poisoning deaths in China these years, the Chinese government expresses concern currently. And related governmental departments are working hard to enhance the supervision on paraquat management. Some officials from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) also pointed out that the government might take further restrictions on some pesticides in the near future, including paraquat, but no active policies has come out up to now in China.

In terms of paraquat pursuers in China, they have a great concern for the government's action towards paraquat because their future strategies about paraquat will be impacted by relative policies to some degree. In public, also, paraquat management in China has been disputed frequently. One opinion is to develop a new herbicide substitute for paraquat, and paraquat should be forbidden in the meantime in the wake of its sharp poisoning trait.

Regarding the dispute about whether paraquat should be forbidden or not in China, CCM International has discussed with Syngenta by E-mail, the largest paraquat player in the world at present. In the interview, Syngenta  expressed its exclusive viewpoints.
(J = Journalist of Herbicides China News, S = Syngenta)
J: Regarding recent rumor that China might take action to restrict paraquat, what is your opinion?
S: Syngenta welcomes the key elements of the proposal by MOA / ICAMA which focus on the stewardship. And Syngenta has an active dialogue with other producers in an effort to improve stewardship through the Paraquat Product Stewardship WorkGroup. We firmly believe that stewardship is a key to the safe use of the product. Thus we have invested in the safe use of paraquat in China through stewardship for many years, farmer support programs, and high quality formulations and packaging.

However, the restriction on paraquat in China should be considered carefully. The regrettable social phenomenon of suicide in rural communities of China has much more complex causes than the availability of farm chemicals. Removing one means of suicide from many others will not have any effect on the root causes of self-harm and is unlikely to make any impact on overall suicide levels. In fact, Syngenta's recent data show that paraquat is used in less than 1% of all pesticide-related suicides in China.

J: What's your suggestion about the stewardship of paraquat suicide in China?
S: The approach of a stewardship plan to manage the issue of suicide through ingestion of agricultural chemicals must involve multi stakeholders (e.g.: health, education, media and agriculture) and be on multi levels (regional, national and global). A comprehensive plan would include the management of access to the product, limitation of media publicity accompanied with the excessive reading of the product and the medical treatment improvement of poisoning.

China should strengthen the supervision of pesticide products as much as possible. For example, the package of liquid paraquat formulation nowadays should be improved—it should be packed in plastic bottle with thin bottleneck so that the liquid outflow time can be prolonged. Besides, liquid paraquat formulation can be changed to non-liquid paraquat formulation in public's advice, such as solid paraquat or powder-like paraquat.

Development of alternative formulations of paraquat will not be an easy or straightforward task as any alternative formulation would have to meet first and foremost the criteria of safety in normal use, as well as practical application and farmer affordability, whilst ensuring that the product continues to represent a viable business for manufacturers, its distributors and end-users.

Postscript from CCM International:
Statistics from CCM International show that there are more than 200 pesticide producers with paraquat production certificates in China. If paraquat was restricted in China, these enterprises will encounter great challenges and difficulties. The economic benefits that paraquat has brought to these enterprises and Chinese agriculture will vanish. Since paraquat is widely used in China, it is difficult to find a proper alternative and effective product to replace paraquat in a short time.

As a widely-used and eco-friendly herbicide with high efficiency, paraquat is still irreplaceable at present. As a non-selective herbicide with so many years' promotion, paraquat has witnessed fast development in the past decades in China, and has been playing an increasingly important role in weed control of orchards, corn fields, no-tillage fields and mulberry fields. China is the largest manufacturer of paraquat technical and formulations in the world.

According to the market report of Production and Market of Paraquat in China published by CCM International, as of May 2011, the paraquat technical capacity in China has reached 150,000t/a (calculated by 42% technical), maintaining the oversupply situation while the output of paraquat technical reached 120,000 tonnes in 2010 with the operating rate of 80%.

In accordance with CCM International's survey, the output of China's paraquat formulations has also grown very fast from more than 40,000 tonnes in 2006 to nearly 80,000 tonnes in 2010, with the average annual growth rate of 20%, which is mainly attributed to the rapid growth of domestic and overseas demand for paraquat during this period.

Thank Syngenta for contribution in this article and some contents were edited by Syngenta
(Similar report is mentioned in Herbicides China News 1109: Worries about paraquat aroused in China and Herbicides China News 0911: Controversy on paraquat poisoning: restricted or banned?)

Source: Herbicides China News 1202

Content of Herbicides China News 1202:
Sensible supervision better than blind restriction on paraquat
Huapont plans to invest in Brazilian market
Jiangsu Kuaida upgrades by relocation
Jiangsu Huifeng to meet expiration of diflufenican registration
Kunshan Raiser relocates into Binhai Industry Park
Glyphosate regulation in environmental protection enhanced
New tries in other industries become a trend
EU withdraws approval in acetochlor registration
Four export-oriented herbicides registered initially in H2 2011
Shandong Tianyuansen explores pyridine production
Sanonda to launch 2,4-D business
Jiangsu Changqing meets intense fomesafen supply
Shandong Yuhuang slacks its 75,000t/a EA project
Price Review in Feb. 2012
Glyphosate price remains stable in Feb.

Herbicides China News, a monthly publication issued by CCM International on 15th of every month, provides you with the latest occurrences, exclusive analysis on the market trend as well as professional reviews on competitiveness of companies, products and relative industries in China’s herbicide industry.

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