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Feb. 24, 2021

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Feb. 24, 2021

Nanotechnology in agriculture, why the use of this technology is lower when compared with other sectors?

By Renato Seraphim


The first experience I had with Nanotechnology was when I was Director of New Business of one multinational company in Brazil, and we wanted an effective product for the control of ants in the Forest market. This pest is the main problem for planted forests and the assets that still work are very old. The active ingredient in question was very effective for ants and we needed its release to be slow and occurring only inside the anthill so that it could reach the largest number of individuals and that we were unable to do through more traditional methods such as encapsulating assets or different formulations. 


The best result we had with this product was done by a research group from the University of Sao Paulo, USP, in São Carlos, through Dr. Valtencir Zucolotto's and his team working with Nanotechnology, with very promising effects. Zucolotto is a Full Professor at the Nanomedicine and Nanotoxicology group in the Physics Institute at São Carlos/USP.


Nanotechnology, in my opinion, is one of the most revolutionary technologies for the next years, but why do we still not have practical results in agriculture with the use of this technology as we have in Medicine, Industrial, and other segments?


Nanotechnology is the Synthesis and processing of structures and devices with control at the molecular level and with the use of that, we can improve and optimize the physical and chemical properties of any material.


Nowadays there are ca. 9000 Nanotech-based products on the market that are used in electronics, construction, cosmetics, defense, medical among others. Follow one link that brings all the products separated by sector https://product.statnano.com, and as you can see there are very few used in Agriculture.


In medicine, for example, nanotech is pledging solutions to various chronic and fatal diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, orthopedic problems, illnesses related to the blood, lungs, neurological, and cardiovascular system. The Global Healthcare Nanotechnology market size is expected to reach US$ 306,100 million $ by the end of 2025.


seed-germination.jpgWe can use Nanotechnology in Agriculture for many applications as:


  1. Smart coatings with fungicide/Insecticide release for Seed Care 

  2. Nanocapsules for controlled release of agrochemicals, Biological and Fertilizers

  3. Nano capsulation of biological 

  4. Intelligent sensors for soils, plants and zoonosis 

  5. Antibacterial coatings for fruits and smart packaging

 

Despite the great advances that nanotechnology has provided to various industrial sectors, there are still challenges to be overcome, especially related to aspects concerning Nanoregulation and Nanosafety. The latter term, in particular, has been specifically applied to situations concerning the workers’ health and environment. It is worth mentioning that, in global terms, the countries that have most concentrated efforts for the certification and standardization of nanoproducts, in all sectors, are China (165), the United Kingdom (122), Iran (104), the United States (71 ), (StatNano, 2020)


In Brazil, in particular, joint efforts from the government, academy, and the industrial sectors resulted in Bill 88/2019, created to establish the Regulatory Framework for Nanotechnology and the National Nanosecurity Program. The program is an incentive to the research and development of nanotechnologies and aims to strengthen the application of nanotechnologies in Brazilian companies, contributing to increased productivity and competitiveness in the international scenario.


In situations where there are no specific regulations, many industrial sectors have used the guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For nanotechnology, ISO / TC 229 is the committee responsible for the development of norms and standards for its terminology, metrology, instrumentation, security, etc.


It is clear to me that nanotechnology will play a significant role in all industrial fields. Together with the other technologies, like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, big data, virtual and augmented reality, and cloud computing, nanotech has an extraordinary aptitude for innovations and outstanding revelations that we can bring urgently for agriculture.


For more details and how to develop Nanotech in Brazil taking advantage of the Brazilian program that incentive the studies, please contact me at seraphim.renatocesar@gmail.com



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