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This perspective integrates scientific, regulatory, public and commercial viewpoints, and aims at critically evaluating progress made over the last decade. A number of key and sometimes controversial questions are addressed with the aim of identifying the products that will soon emerge on the market and analyzing how they can fit into current regulatory and commercial frameworks.

Issues related to the differences in definitions and perceptions within different sectors are discussed, as well as our current ability to assess new risks and benefits relative to conventional products.

Many nanoagrochemicals resemble products used currently, which raises the question whether the effect of formulation has been sufficiently taken into account when evaluating agrochemicals. This analysis identifies directions for future research and regulatory needs in order to encourage intelligent design and promote the development of more sustainable agrochemicals.

This perspective focuses on applications of nanotechnology for plant protection and nutrition, in the form of nanopesticides or nanofertilizers, later referred to as nanoagrochemicals. The use of agrochemicals is crucial to modern agriculture, but the development of nanopesticides and nanofertilizers has received less, or at least delayed attention relative to other sectors of the food chain, such as food processing or packaging.

Due to their direct and intentional application in the environment, nanoagrochemicals may be regarded as particularly critical in terms of possible environmental impact, as they would represent the only intentional diffuse source of engineered nanoparticles in the environment Kah et al.

The use of agrochemicals is associated with some risks for human and environmental health e. Many reports foresee that nanotechnology will allow the development of high-tech agricultural fields, equipped with a range of intelligent nanotools that allow for the precise management and control of inputs, including pesticides, fertilizers, and water. The development of such devices would certainly lead to a revolution in agricultural practices, and could possibly contribute to an important reduction in the impact of modern agriculture on the environment and an improvement in both the quality and quantity of yields Scott and Chen, ; ETC, ; Sekhon, ; Liu and Lal, However, because agriculture is a low profit industry, one must recognize that such applications do not fit within current economic reality and also face a high risk of early regulatory and social rejection.

After briefly summarizing the activities related to nanoagrochemicals undertaken over the last decade Figure 1 , a number of key questions are addressed with the aim of identifying the products that may soon emerge on the market and analyzing how they fit into the current regulatory and commercial frameworks.

Viewpoints from the scientific, industrial, and regulatory spheres are integrated to discuss what the future of nanoagrochemicals may look like.

Finally, future directions are suggested that may allow the agrochemical sector to take advantage of nanotechnology, and possibly reduce its impact on human and environmental health. Figure 1. Activities carried out over the last decade were intense, but fragmented by sectors, with only limited interactions represented with the arrows between the research sphere, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, industry, and the public.

Scientific activities related to the development of nanopesticides and nanofertilisers have been remarkable and the number of peer-reviewed papers related to the topic has shown an exponential growth over the last decade. The different types of products presented in the literature and the latest trends in research have been regularly summarized e. The popularity of the topic recently extended to major scientific meetings targeting various scientific communities e.

The trend is expected to continue, as the topic has recently been integrated as a research priority by various regulatory bodies and research funding agencies e. There are huge differences in the research approaches applied to nanoagrochemicals in the different scientific communities involved.

Some communities tend to convey a very positive image of the technology e. The opinions presented by researchers can have a great impact on the perception that non-scientific communities develop. Several international organizations have coordinated workshops on the applications of nanotechnology for the agricultural sector, and conclusions were often compiled in reports that are available online e.

The extent to which nanoagrochemicals develop will be strongly influenced by the regulatory system that controls their entry into the market. There are, at present, great geographical discrepancies, which may eventually shape applications emerging in a given market Watson et al. In the EU for instance, some companies are currently facing great challenges derived from the definition of nanomaterials that has been proposed EU, Companies are thus unlikely to choose the EU to introduce a new nanoagrochemical onto the market.

In view of the general proliferation of nanoregulations worldwide, there is an urgent need for increased clarity in defining what constitutes a nanoagrochemical and harmonization of methods for assessing their risks.

Only a few initiatives have been taken with this objective so far, e. Industry has a key role to play, for instance, by supplying the necessary data and product information, and sharing their technical, scientific and policy expertise Watson et al.

Similar declarations have now become scarce in geographical areas where the regulatory burden has greatly increased over the last decade e. For instance, there are no more references to nanotechnology when searching the websites of large agrochemical companies Suppan, while other companies have applied marketing strategies such as rebranding products or whole companies e.

There are big concerns about the possible stigmatization of nanomaterials. Despite a number of initiatives to warn the public that nanoparticles are now intentionally introduced at all stages of the food chain e. This may be explained by i most concerns being focused on nanoparticles used as ingredients and additives to food and food packaging e. Overall, increasing regulatory burden and risk of stigmatization certainly played a role in the apparent decreased interest of the agrochemical industry in nanotechnology.

However, the most important reason may be that research so far has not suggested that nanotechnology alone is likely to help with industry's research priorities, e. Inventories presented to date and based on patent analysis and scientific literature e.

When the information makes its way to non-specialist readership e. Overall, the hypothesis that smaller means more reactive and, thus, more potent has not been substantiated for agrochemicals. There are considerable issues relating to the definition of nanoparticles and how the criteria proposed could apply to nanopesticides discussed in Kah et al.

Most importantly, a definition based on size alone would exclude many recent so-called nanoformulations and, on the other hand, include products that have been on the market for decades without posing particular problems e.

In this context, it may be more useful to speak about nano-enabled or formulation technology, rather than focusing only on the nanoparticles and how they should be defined.

This recurrent question cannot be answered until a clear definition has been agreed on, which explains why contradictory statements have been made by members of different communities. When considering only nanoagrochemicals, the paradigm behind a classical risk assessment approach i.

Exposure assessment relies on investigations into the environmental fate of a compound. There have been a limited number of studies investigating nanoagrochemicals Kah et al.

It is also likely that fate and hazard endpoints are not adequately determined through the application of protocols that were developed previously for other types of chemicals Kah et al.

Overall, the current level of knowledge appears to be largely insufficient for a reliable assessment of the risks associated with the use of nanoagrochemicals. However, prohibiting the application of nanopesticides until they are proven entirely safe is unrealistic, as all pesticides are inherently toxic at least to the target pest and, thus, associated with some risk.

It is also important to note that some nanopesticides may offer a number of benefits, including increased efficacy, reductions in application rates, exposure to non-target organisms or the development of resistances. In the scientific literature, the last couple of years have seen increasing incentives to use nanotechnology to develop products that may be less harmful to the environment relative to conventional agrochemicals. A fair assessment of nanopesticides should, thus, be looking at evaluating both the risks and benefits associated with their use relative to current solutions.

While this may not be possible when considering all products discussed so far in literature, restricting the analysis to products that are likely to emerge in the next decade shows that a fair assessment may be possible. Many nanoagrochemicals described in the scientific literature do not fit within current market constraints.

Many have low agronomic relevance, while others are associated with obviously unacceptable risks without clear benefits. For example, engineered nanoparticles that have received most of the attention in other sectors have very low potential for large-scale agricultural applications e.

Similar to the trends observed in other sectors of the food chain over the last couple of years, interest has shifted from inorganic toward organic-based nanomaterials e. Nanoagrochemicals that use organic-based delivery systems developed for food or pharmaceutical applications are, however, often not economically competitive with other agrochemicals. More critical investigations assessing whether the products presented in the literature are able to compete with existing formulations in terms of both costs and performance are markedly needed.

Development of new formulations has long been a very active field of research, since all agrochemicals need to be formulated for specific applications. Under increasing regulatory pressure, the application and delivery of authorized active substances need to be optimized more than ever before. Formulation scientists, thus, continue to explore new solutions aiming to enhance agrochemical activity, while, at the same time, keeping the environmental impacts to a minimum.

In order to maintain colloidal stability and prevent phase separation during storage and application, most formulations contain structures belonging to the nanometer range e. Formulation scientists have now access to novel instruments that allow a better understanding of those structures, facilitating their synthesis and modifications to suit a given purpose. Such products have the potential to support a better management of agricultural inputs and, thus, to reduce the impact of modern agriculture.

Hence, the regulation of a formulation on the market should not be solely based on a size threshold i. Pesticide authorization has long been subject to a strict and increasingly protective regulatory risk assessment.

Safety factors are typically applied in order to account for uncertainties and provide a margin of safety. It is likely that the effects of formulations nano or not fall within this margin. Impacts of nano formulations on the fate and effects of active substances have been reported on many occasions in the scientific literature, but the mechanisms involved remain poorly understood.

Elucidating those processes and analyzing the consequences in terms of environmental impact requires the application of experimental protocols, analytical techniques and theories that are different to those typically applied to agrochemicals e.

Kookana et al. Two potential scenarios that the development of nanoagrochemicals might follow in the future are illustrated in Figure 2.

In the first, developments continue along the current path and nanoagrochemicals are likely to become, or at least be perceived as, the next emerging category of contaminants associated with agricultural practices. Alternatively, nanotechnology could become a potential source of emerging solutions to mitigate contamination by pesticides and fertilizers. This second scenario can only be achieved by rapid changes by industry, researchers, and regulatory agencies, following for instance, some of the directions suggested below.

Increasing collaborations between disciplines that are involved at all stages of the development and evaluation of agrochemicals e. Current approaches to chemical regulatory assessment often consist of applying incremental safety factors to account for the increasing level of uncertainty.

Alternatively, new science-based tools should be developed to assess and fully exploit what the science of formulation has to offer, based on the risks and benefits over the entire life cycle of the products. Promotion of more collaboration across sectors e. Moving to a broader concept of nano-enabled technology and building on the experience from other sectors e. Figure 2. The future of nanoagrochemicals may follow one of two scenarios.

In the first most likely in the current context , nanoagrochemicals are considered as emerging contaminants and the development of the technology will remain limited. The second scenario will require the establishment of highly collaborative and interdisciplinary research to provide fair assessment of both risk and benefits so that the full potential of nano formulations can be explored.

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Praetorius for constructive discussions. ACS APVMA Regulatory Considerations for Nanopesticides and Veterinary Nanomedecines. Aschberger, K. Nanomaterials in food — current and future applications and regulatory aspects. Crop Chemical Europe EC JRC Nanomaterials Repository.



A critical evaluation of nanopesticides and nanofertilizers against their conventional analogues

This perspective integrates scientific, regulatory, public and commercial viewpoints, and aims at critically evaluating progress made over the last decade. A number of key and sometimes controversial questions are addressed with the aim of identifying the products that will soon emerge on the market and analyzing how they can fit into current regulatory and commercial frameworks. Issues related to the differences in definitions and perceptions within different sectors are discussed, as well as our current ability to assess new risks and benefits relative to conventional products. Many nanoagrochemicals resemble products used currently, which raises the question whether the effect of formulation has been sufficiently taken into account when evaluating agrochemicals.


Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides

What will happen when the first nano-formulations of pesticides quietly make their way onto our agricultural fields? A scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Harper is doggedly researching tiny, human-made substances called nanoparticles, with the goal of identifying which will be a boon and which a bane for farmers, consumers and the environment. Nanoparticles, which are the size of molecules, are already used in everything from sunscreen to biomedical devices. Their minuscule size makes them efficient, but also unpredictable. An engineer as well as a toxicologist, Harper holds a unique perspective. She believes nanotechnology could help revolutionize farming just as it has medicine.


Nanopesticides and Nanofertilizers: Emerging Contaminants or Opportunities for Risk Mitigation?

Latin pestis - plague and caedere - kill. Man-made chemical substances used to kill, displace or inhibit reproduction of organisms regarded as annoying or harmful. Generic term for all plant protection products and substances for pest control. On 18 October the EU Commission adopted the recommendation on the definition of a nanomaterial.


Nanopesticide: Future Application of Nanomaterials in Plant Protection

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