Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paraquat Won't Die in China

Regarding the governmental decision to restrict paraquat in China, which has already witnessed the official announcement since April 24, 2012, Mr. Pierre Cohadon, China Territory Head of Syngenta, released his exclusive and constructive opinions in the E-mail interview achieved by CCM International.

On April 24, 2012, three Chinese governmental departments including the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) jointly released an official announcement that all paraquat SL should be withdrawn from the whole Chinese market after July 1, 2016. And the relevant administrative sanctions (registration and production permit) of paraquat products, covering TK, SL and mixed SL, will also be stopped from that day. (Herbicides China News 1205: China takes restriction on paraquat)

(J = Journalist of Herbicides China News)

J: How does Syngenta understand the government decision of paraquat regulation in China?
Mr. Cohadon: It is important to understand that this decision is not a ban on paraquat. In fact, recognizing the significant benefits that paraquat brings to Chinese farmers and agricultural productivity, the government requests a small number of providers including Syngenta to develop alternative formulations. In its announcement, the government clearly states an intention to "keep human safety and ensure the safe production of paraquat". The steps being taken are considered to be "restrictive management measures" only.

The Chinese government has taken steps which would help address the problem of intentional paraquat abuse. In terms of suicide with paraquat, however, we consider that the issue of suicide in rural communities of China has much more complex causes rather than just the availability of farm chemicals. In our points of view, removing one means of suicide from many others is unlikely to make any impact on the overall suicide level. (Our most recent data show that paraquat was used in less than 1% of all pesticide-related suicides in China).

The decision will not have wider global implications and we fully expect that millions of growers around the world including China will continue to use paraquat safely and effectively. Paraquat will still be available in China, albeit in different formulations (if they can be developed). The product has been used safely by millions of farmers around the world for almost 50 years and is highly effective in the control of a wide spectrum of weeds. Paraquat is becoming even more important for weed control as labour shortage continues and cost increases.

The government's decision provides a phaseout of liquid formulations of paraquat for us. No new registrations of liquid paraquat (only for liquid formulations) will be allowed from mid-2014 and then there will also be a period of two years for the manufacturers to run down the stocks. It means that after mid-2016, liquid paraquat formulations will not be available in China, but other alternative formulations of paraquat can still be available, if they are developed.

J: What is Syngenta's attitude towards paraquat restriction in China?
Mr. Cohadon: Syngenta firmly believes that the safty assurance of paraquat is the key to the sustainable management of the product. We are committed to ensuring the management framework of healthy products, in order to support the safe use of paraquat, regardless of the formulation.

As mentioned just now, we consistently consider that the poisoning trait of paraquat is not the most key factor in terms of suicide with paraquat. Suicide in rural communities in China has much more complex causes rather than merely the availability of farm chemicals. Removing one means of suicide from many others can't cure the self-harm problem.

We also believe that it is very important for farmers to have access to this important product. The product has been popular in the world for almost 50 years, and it will still contribute much to the control of a wide spectrum of weeds.

J: What measures Syngenta is going to take in the face of this regulation?
Mr. Cohadon: Syngenta, together with other members of the China Paraquat Stewardship Alliance Working Group (CPSAWG) led by the China Crop Protection Industry Association (CCPIA), fulfill the commitments towards MOA and ICAMA to ensure that millions of Chinese farmers have safe access to the best available technology.

We will continue to work closely with the government as we look at the viability of developing alternative formulations. Developing alternatives that are both safe and economically feasible will be challenging.

The access to technology is crucial for maximizing productivity and it can help the Chinese government achieve its stated objective of 95% food self sufficiency. We are also committed to working with the multitude of stakeholders to minimize the risk of paraquat abuse.

All member companies of the CPSAWG are committed to strengthening overall management of the product.
Key interventions include:
1. Stringent adherence to National Quality Standards and the FAO Specifications for paraquat
It would assure the quality of product available in the market including sufficient amount of emetic and olfactory stench (as an alerting agent). Moreover, strong enforcement against off-spec products would help reduce inappropriate access via volume control.

2. Extensive training for growers and users in safe and responsible use of agrochemicals
In cooperation with the National Agro-Tech Extension Service Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture (NATESC), Syngenta China conducts training projects in over 20 provinces.

About two million farmers have been given training since the launch of the program in 2000 and such training will be extended to bring about general improvement in agricultural practices of all agrochemicals. The training will have a specific focus on safe storage practices, such as distribution and promotion of lockable boxes, so as to reduce inappropriate access for impulsive acts. 

Surveys carried out since 2004 by independent market researchers and published in peer reviewed journals in 2008 and 2009 have revealed that over half of nearly 9,000 knapsack users applying crop protection products in 26 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America received information or training on safe use in the past several years. The findings indicate that those with recent training are reported fewer incidents.

3. Broaden training to frontline medical professionals on better diagnosis and treatment of poisoning incidents.
This will result in improved intervention treatment—an important area often highlighted by international suicide prevention experts. Treatment guidelines, urine test kits and treatment aides such as activated charcoal are also distributed to trained medical professionals at clinics and hospitals to facilitate effective diagnosis and treatment of patients.

4. Establishment of an Adverse Health Incident (AHI) Management System and Database
To complement enhanced medical training, CPSAWG member companies have established a common AHI management system and database that can be accessed 24 hours toll free via a telephone hotline (the number of which will be printed on product labels). This will further ensure prompt medical advice to be given to primary care health providers, especially those in rural areas. The data collated will also provide a reliable benchmark on the effectiveness of the management measures.

With these undertakings, Syngenta along with other members of the CPSAWG are confident that the comprehensive Stewardship Plan will contribute significantly towards the MOA's and ICAMA's objectives—managing product abuse while ensuring that Chinese farmers have access to the best possible technology to maximize their productivity.

J: How does Syngenta consider the emerging market of China?
Mr. Cohadon: China is an important market for Syngenta and we remain committed to developing our business here.

China feeds 20% of the global population with just 7% of the world's arable land. The government is committed to improving agricultural productivity, which will be well supported by reforms in the seed and crop protection industries.

And Syngenta is committed to supporting the government in achieving its objectives for agriculture. We are working on this through introducing the best possible technology with integrated offers that are innovative and can be applied on a large scale. Through integration and innovation, we are confident that we can help Chinese agriculture outperform and meet the government's ambitious objectives for food security.
Thank Syngenta for the contribution to this article, and some of the content was edited jointly by Syngenta and CCM International.

(Relative discussions about paraquat restriction in China were mentioned separately in Herbicides China News 1109: Worries about paraquat aroused in China, issue 1202: Sensible supervision better than blind restriction on paraquat and issue 1205: China takes restriction on paraquat.)

Source: Herbicides China News 1206

Content of Herbicides China News 1206:
Paraquat won't die in China
Huayang Group wants to quit from Huayang Technology
Jiangsu Jiannong seeks boom in ABA Chemicals
Yifan Biotechnology gains formal clodinafop-propargyl registration
Lianshui Yongan upgrades pendimethalin manufacture
Good Harvest-Weien gets 1st formal ethofumesate registration in China
State-owned enterprises lead pesticide integration
Quiet Battle between Roundup and Chinese glyphosate
Diquat capacity to increase in China
Trifluralin sales slacks in June
Sevencontinent Green welcomes metribuzin sales tide
Glufosinate-ammonium supply intense
Glyphosate meets normal supply in Biok K.P.
Herbicide price remains flat this June
… …

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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