Oct. 20, 2020
Until 2017, adjuvants in Brazil were regulated by the same legislation as agrochemicals (Law 7,802 regulated by Decree 4,074) and, therefore, were subject to the same registration process. Scientific researcher Hamilton Ramos (Coordinator of the Agronomic Institute, IAC), explained, “This was not correct and did not address the problem of regulation.”
“This is because adjuvants, by definition, are products without phytosanitary characteristics, that is, they do not control any pest in isolation. Also, the only agronomic test required for registration was the effectiveness test, so adjuvants can be mixed with any insecticide, fungicide or herbicide, and the control interference was evaluated. Typical characteristics of adjuvants, such as a surfactant, compatibilities and penetrating effects, were not considered. At this stage, some companies, aiming to circumvent the high costs involved in registering as pesticides, started to register their adjuvants as foliar fertilizers,” he added.
After 2017, with the fall in the need for regulation by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (MAPA), the number of adjuvants in the market increased significantly, but the same problem remained. "This is because adjuvants, despite not having phytosanitary characteristics, alter the characteristics of the spray syrup, a mixture of a pesticide and water, and can result in beneficial or harmful effects to the spraying," Ramos warned.
“It is, therefore, not possible to make an adequate recommendation without knowing the functionality of adjuvants, which, in turn, is not possible without a regulation that enables us to know such features. Regulating adjuvants is seldom practiced anywhere in the world, and there are testing methods that can still be considered incipient,” he further added.
The most structured, according to Ramos, is one developed by the Council of Producers & Distributors of Agrotechnology (CPDA) in the US, a board formed by adjuvant manufacturers, which also launched the “Adjuvant Certification Program,” a structured program for certifying these products. However, the process is very similar to the registration of pesticides in Brazil and, of the 17 steps required to obtain certification, only one refers to the certification of functionalities. The others refer to toxicological aspects and compliance with American legislation, such as transportation. With regards to functionalities, the only requirement of the CPDA is that products must be analyzed according to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) when methods for this are available, but very few are.
“The problem exists and it is serious. Brazil, as an agricultural country, needs to innovate in this area. That is why the IAC Engineering and Automation Center, an organ of the São Paulo State Department of Agriculture and Supply, has proposed the classification of adjuvants by functionality for over 20 years, to develop methods for the evaluation of each one. More recently, it launched the Spray Adjuvant Program to draft the basis of a certification program,” Ramos stressed.
“One cannot analyze only one or two functionalities per product, because, as years of studies have shown, adjuvants may not only have beneficial effects, but they can also have so-called side effects. For this reason, adjuvants must go through the whole gauntlet of functionality tests, so manufacturers can work on not only their strengths but also their weaknesses during product positioning. It must also be clear that laboratory results will be influenced by characteristics of use in the field, such as the products to be mixed and the volume of spray solution. Therefore, laboratory tests are not intended to replace field tests,” he further said.
Ramos argued that the criteria should be discussed with manufacturers, researchers and users from technical chambers, such as the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT), before being transformed into standards to be then adopted within an official certification system, which is not a fast process. “Due to the urgency of action and as a way of obtaining a technical basis to support its proposals and provide consistent guidance to the adjuvant chain, CEA/IAC chose to launch its own voluntary certification program. As long as there is no regulation, only the price factor remains in the market, and this tends to not reflect quality or control consequences, as well as the health of workers and the environment that inappropriate use can cause,” he concluded.
Simplification: Brazil follows Mercosur
João Antônio Ramos Castro (Director of Gran Agro Produtos Agrícolas) said that the decision made in Brazil to waive the registration of adjuvants, along the same lines as agrochemicals, is correct. According to him, in the Mercosur countries, including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile, equivalent legislation is already much more simplified.
“In 2017, Brazil decided to monitor what was already happening around it, and in November, Acts [Normative] 104 and 108 canceled all registrations and determined that adjuvants would no longer need the same records required for crop protection products,” Castro explained.
“This was not something that Brazil did for itself, but it reflects what was already adopted in Mercosur, Europe, the US and Canada. The market has long commented that Brazil should evaluate what has happened and how surfactants are classified in other countries. In Mercosur, the legislation has been the same for a long time as it is today in Brazil, with only the signature of the chemist responsible for the product, the process number, and exemption from registration with MAPA,” Castro stressed.
Mexico follows US standards
Also according to João Antônio Ramos Castro, Mexican companies follow the standards of the United States very closely. In both countries in North America, there is no need to register adjuvants, as is the case in most countries in the world. A particularity, both in the United States and in Mexico, is that the agrochemical application service is performed by a contracted company, which in many cases already supplies the inputs. As a result, the rural producer ends up not buying agrochemicals directly, but through a company that applies pesticides.
“In Mexico there are companies that provide the pesticide application service, and therefore they supply adjuvants themselves. It is not like in Brazil that rural producers have their own agrochemicals application worker. In Mexico, a company is hired to apply the pesticide as a service provider”, he explains.
In his opinion, in Mexico the adjuvant market is much more liberated and the use of these products is much more intensive, as is also the case in the United States. “There is greater freedom of use, and therefore the product is further developed, the result of the application is thought more. Looking at this example, we made an assessment of how Brazil has the potential to increase this market”, says the director of Gran Agro.
“We have seen in the field that Brazilian producers have been using less and less water and more and more concentrated formulations – which require more water. This has caused problems in the application of pesticides. This shows the lack of technicality of the applicators, which does not occur in countries where service providers are responsible, because these professionals will use the best product, the best equipment and agricultural practices”, he points out.
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