Increasing attention is being paid to developing safer and more environmentally friendly pesticide formulations in more convenient packaging. Formulation technology is now seen as an enabling technology, which can add significant value and attractive presentations to pesticide products, and at the same time improve operator safety and reduce the dose rate and wastage of pesticides applied to crops, thereby reducing environmental impact and increasing food safety. The primary objectives of formulation technology are to optimise the biological activity of the pesticide, and to give a product which is safe and convenient for use. However, because of the wide variety of chemical pesticide active ingredients which are available, many different types of formulations have been developed depending mainly on the physicochemical properties of the active ingredients. In the past, most formulations were based on simple solutions in water (SL), emulsifiable concentrates in a petroleum-based solvent (EC), or dusts (DP) and wettable powders (WP). The presence of petroleum-based solvents in EC formulations and dusty powders in DP and WP formulations can lead to safety hazards in use and a negative impact on the environment generally. These types of formulations are regarded now as 'old technology'. Most government regulatory authorities, including the Chinese Government, are now demanding formulations which are cleaner and safer for the user, have minimal impact on the environment, and can be applied at the lowest dose rate. This has led to the development of water-based liquid formulations such as suspension concentrates (SC), oil-in water emulsions (EW) and microcapsules (CS). There has also been a move away from dusty powders towards water dispersible or soluble granules (WG/SG). These developments in formulation technology and other novel formulation types, sometimes in special packaging such as water-soluble packs, can give products a competitive advantage, add value or extend the life-cycle of active ingredients. These types of formulations are regarded as 'new technology'. While much progress has been made towards new technology formulations in the USA, Europe and Japan, nearly all pesticide formulations in China were produced using the old technology until the early 1990s. From 1993 to 1999, a Pesticide Formulation Development Project was carried out under a United Nations programme with the cooperation of the Chinese Government at the Nantong Pesticide Formulation Centre (NPFC), Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China. This paper describes the new pesticide formulations that were developed at Nantong, and how the new technology is being increasingly demanded by the Chinese regulatory authorities and introduced by pesticide formulation companies in China. Some figures are presented to show how the pesticide market in China has now become one of the most important in the world, and how the market share is moving towards the safer formulations made by the new technology. The data on formulations in China are compared with data for USA/Europe over the last 10-15 years.
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