As of December 31, 2020, 41885 pesticides of 714 active ingredients have been registered in China, consisting of 39299 agricultural pesticides and 2576 public health pesticides. Since 2013, the number of pesticides newly registered each year has grown by an average rate of 5%. As China introduced new data requirements in 2018, the number of pesticides newly approved plumbed a new depth of only 205 in 2019. Although 805 pesticides were approved in 2020, the number is still far below the level years ago. Apart from the elevated registration requirements, the increasing M&A events and elimination of SMEs lead by industrial consolidation and environmental rectification is another cause of the decreasing number, which will be a chronic condition and beneficial to China’s “quantity reduction and efficiency increasing” towards pesticide use.
In recent 8 years, over 90% of the pesticides approved were slightly or low toxic and the figure has risen to 100% in recent 4 years. Emulsifiable Concentrates (EC) is the most registered formulation type and contributes the most VOCs, but its percentage has continued to drop. Wettable powder has had the same situation. Meanwhile, Suspension Concentrate(SC), Water Dispersible Granules and Oil Dispersion have maintained annual growth of 9.1%, 6.7% and 17% respectively. In addition to the rapid growth of Flowable Concentrate for Seed Coating (FS), Capsule Suspension (CS) and other environmentally friendly formulations, a novel formulation type, Dispensor(DR) has also been increasingly registered.
Insecticides take up the highest proportion of all products and have been the most registered category before 2016, but that is set to change with the rapid growth of herbicides and fungicides. These three categories now have a relatively equal percentage in newly registered products.
The number of public health pesticides has maintained at around 2500 owing to the stagnated market development. China has no market definition for non-crop use pesticides, whose registration scope includes not only household insecticidal use but also products for lawn, ornamentals, forestry and other non-farmland uses. As a result, only 2 imported wood preservatives have been registered in China so far. A group standard for wood preservation has been drafted and publicly consulted, which is expected to promote market development and pesticide registration.
Stable Growth of Biopesticides
1735 biopesticides comprising of 125 biological active ingredients have been registered in China, with an average growth of 9% annually in recent 6 years and the largest percentage in new pesticide registration that requires full data but enjoys 6-year data protection.
China’s pesticide registration system treats different strains of a single microbial species as different active ingredients and each strain need to be registered as new ingredient separately, which become one of the driving force of microbial pesticides.
China has increased policy support for biopesticides, notably the fast-track registration process launched in September 2020. Biopesticides, minor-crop use pesticides (crop scope expansion from registered pesticides) and new pesticides substituting highly toxic pesticides can apply for the fast-track process and are prioritized for technical review.
The invasive pest Spodoptera frugiperda was newly detected in 2018 and rapidly spread to 18 provinces. Whereas, there wasn’t any pesticide been registered to control the pest. By the end of 2020, 4 microbial pesticides have been registered through the crop rang expansion process. An industrial standard for Spodoptera frugiperda nuclear polyhedrosis virus is also being developed.
Minor-crop Use Pesticide Facilitation
To ensure the availability of minor-crop use products, MoARA adopted test cost distribution among multiple applicants and the simplified test filling formality. Different companies applying the same pesticide with the same target crop and pest are encouraged to join a consortium to generated required efficacy and residue data, which will be filed by the designated testing institute instead of the applicant. On May 27, 2020, MoARA released the “technical requirement on the dietary risk control of minor-crop use pesticides”. The documents listed 505 pesticides of 67 active ingredients and 11 formulation types targeting 84 minor crops. Pesticide satisfying the criteria on target crop, dose, time of application, application method and safety interval can be exempted from residue test.
Progressing Chinese Enterprises
Driven by elevated requirements on safety and efficiency, Chinese enterprises have actively engaged in the development and production of novel and low-risk pesticides. Of all the new pesticides registered in the past 8 years, the Chinese-invented pesticides have held a majority of 63%. In 2020, China released 10,552 pesticide patents, responsible of 41.3% of pesticide patents released worldwide.
China will continue the “usage-reduction and efficiency-enhancing” policy and will have raised the utilization efficiency above 40%. The number of pesticides newly registered is not expected to revert to the level years ago, but biopesticides and minor-crop use pesticides will maintain rapid growth.