Aug. 15, 2019
A recurring misconception in the recent era of digital media and other forms of media concerns an alleged relationship between the number of registrations of new agrochemicals and their increased use in agriculture.
On the Internet, we often encounter claims that this process will ultimately poison the population, as well as other related claims, which not only distort reality but also create a misleading relationship between cause and effect. These claims are not true.
Firstly, we need to make it clear that to get to the point of registration, agrochemical products undergo a series of analysis and tests, until there are no doubts about their efficiency and safety. In addition to being evaluated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa), these products are also evaluated by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), which analyzes possible risks to human health, as well as by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), which determines environmental effects.
A brief analysis of official data is enough to conclude that the false relationship between agrochemical sales and registration numbers is not supported. Among the products approved this year, most have the same active ingredients already present in the Brazilian market, only with different trademarks.
According to experts and technicians interviewed by this report, what influences sales are pests, diseases and climate, so the number of new registered products does not influence sales volume.
“From a technical point of view, this is not true. The number of product registrations is not directly related to the use of pesticides in the field,” said Arthur Arrobas, Professor of Agronomy at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR).
According to Arrobas, what can happen is the reverse. "By not having a variety of products with different control actions, producers, due mostly to limited information, seek alternatives, such as using two products instead of one, jus to be effective," he said. Therefore, the idea of alternative control could result in more efficient use and consequently lower levels of agrochemicals.
An example of how the number of registrations does not equate to volume traded is the variation that occurred between 2012 and 2013. While the number of registered products fell from 168 to 110, the volume traded during this period increased from 477,700 tons to 495,700 tons. During this period, the number of registration records decreased, but consumption increased.
The explanation is simple. In 2013, many remember the caterpillar, Helicoverpa armigera, which worried thousands of producers. After causing significant damage to crops in Bahia, the caterpillar appeared in several other regions, becoming notorious for its voracious appetite. Although it did not affect other regions as badly, it caused greater use of agrochemicals that season.
Between 2016 and 2017, the number of product registrations increased from 277 to 405, while the sale volume of pesticides fell from 541,800 tons to 539,900 tons, meaning that there was no direct relationship.
Regarding the registration approvals of new products this year, the National Union of Plant Protection Products Industry (Sindiveg) publicly clarified some points. “We must explain that there are two types of products that have been approved: technicals and formulations. The first group, which represents about half of records in 2019, refers to raw materials, or other products used for manufacturing formulated products, which will not be marketed directly for use in the field,” it stated.
Sindiveg also pointed out that regarding the number of formulated products, all registrations are new trademarks that were previously available in the market. "This means that there are more options for farmers, and is not an increase in the amount of products used in the field," he added.