Neonicotinoid Insecticides Become a Highlight
Year:2010 ISSUE:7
Click:325    DateTime:Nov.30,2010
Neonicotinoid Insecticides Become a Highlight   

By Zhang Weinong, Nantong Pesticide Market Information Center   

Neonicotinoid compounds are a class of high potency, safe and highly selective new pesticides that have developed rapidly in domestic and international markets. Since the late 1980s, China has studied and developed neonicotinoid insecticides and has now achieved considerable progresses in this field. Neonicotinoid insecticides include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, nitenpyram, imidaclothiz, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran. It is estimated that in the next five years, neonicotinoid products will account for 15% to 20% of the world's total pesticide consumption.

1. The features and uses of neonicotinoid insecticides

The prominent feature of neonicotinoid insecticides is that they have excellent killing effect to several types of harmful insects that have become resistant to common insecticides, but the chemicals have low toxicity to mammals. As the first neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid was quickly accepted by farmers due to its excellent systemic capability, low toxicity, broad insecticidal spectrum and lasting effectiveness. But pesticide resistance surveillance reports at home and abroad state that many insects have already developed resistance to imidacloprid.
   Acetamiprid has a strong systemic capability, fast effectiveness, high activity, lasting efficacy, a broad insecticidal spectrum and no cross-resistance with conventional pesticides. Acetamiprid is one of major insecticides used in China to protect rice from brown planthoppers and has a special killing effect to those pests that are resistant to organic phosphorus, carbamate and pyrethroid pesticides.
   Nitenpyram has functions similar to those of other neonicotinoid pesticides. When it is mixed with pesticides to which some pests have become resistant, such as organic phosphorus, carbamate and nereistoxin pesticides, nitenpyram can enhance their insecticidal efficiency.
   Imidaclothiz is a neonicotinoid insecticide that has low toxicity, strong systemic capability and high activity. Its effectiveness is not affected by temperature, and it has no cross-resistance.
   Thiacloprid can be used to prevent and control most of the pests for rice, fruits, vegetables, cotton and other crops and has no cross-resistance with conventional insecticides, such as pyrethroids, organic phosphorus and carbamates. It also has very little negative impact on the environment.

2. The production and consumption of neonicotinoid insecticides

Since 1992, China has begun research and development work of imidacloprid, which has been the fastest growing neonicotinoid insecticide in recent years. Currently in China, there are 63 enterprises registered to produce the active ingredient of imidacloprid. They have a total imidacloprid capacity of about 25 000 t/a and a total output of approximately 12 000 tons per year, which accounts for 2/3 of the total global output. Every year, China consumes around 3 000 tons to 4 000 tons of imidacloprid API and exports about 8 000 tons. By improving the production process, the production cost of imidacloprid active ingredient has reduced dramatically. The price of imidacloprid active ingredient has dropped from more than RMB1 million/t in the past down to RMB100 000/t now.
   As of March 31st, 2009, twenty nine Chinese enterprises, such as the Redsun Group Corporation, Jiangsu ChangLong Chemical Co., Ltd., Hebei Xuanhua Pesticide Co., Ltd. and Anhui Huaxing Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., and Nippon Soda Co. Ltd. had registered in China to produce acetamiprid active ingredient, 198 enterprises registered to produce single-dose acetamiprid, and 25 registered to produce acetamiprid compositional formulation. China has a total acetamiprid API capacity of about 30 000 t/a, a total output of 13 500 t/a, a domestic demand of 4 500 t/a and an export volume of about 9 000 t/a. If China can make breakthroughs in the technology (including production processes, formulations, applications research, etc.) and market for acetamiprid, this pesticide should have a larger development space.
   Nitenpyram is a newly promoted alternative to highly toxic pesticides in China. In recent years, its production and sales keep on growing. In China, six enterprises have now registered to produce nitenpyram active ingredient, such as Guangxi Tianyuan Biochemistry Co., Ltd., Lianyungang Liben Agrochemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Jiacheng Pesticide Chemical Co., Ltd. and Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals Co., Ltd. In 2009, China produced about 500 tons of nitenpyram active ingredient but needed 3 000 tons of nitenpyram. So nitenpyram is in seriously short supply in China. It is estimated that in the next few years, domestic demand for nitenpyram will reach 10 000 tons per year.
   Imidaclothiz was invented by Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals Co., Ltd. This company owns the intellectual property rights of this pesticide and produces it exclusively and now has an imidaclothiz active ingredient production capacity of 200 t/a. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has listed imidaclothiz as an alternative for the five highly toxic pesticides like methamidophos whose production, sale and use have been banned. Thus, this company has gained a good market opportunity. However, compared to the development speed of other neonicotinoid pesticides, the current production scale and market share of imidaclothiz are relatively small.  
   Thiacloprid was first developed by Bayer Group of Germany. After this product entered China, some Chinese research institutions have now developed production process for it, achieving a total thiacloprid yield rate of 60% - 62% and solving issues about its industrial emissions. The purity of thiacloprid active ingredient produced by Chinese companies now reaches 97.5%. At present, Tianjin Xingguang Pesticide Plant and other enterprises can produce active ingredient of thiacloprid.
   Thiamethoxam is a second-generation neonicotinoid insecticide developed by Syngenta AG. Clothianidin is a second-generation neonicotinoid insecticide jointly developed by the Japan's Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. and Bayer Group. Dinotefuran is a new third-generation neonicotinoid insecticide developed by Japan's Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals Inc. and is currently in the patent protection period.

3. The development prospects of neonicotinoid insecticides

In recent years, pesticides are now much oversupplied in China, resulting in fierce competition among organic phosphorus, carbamate, pyrethroid, organic chlorine pesticides. There are three reasons supporting neonicotinoid insecticides to hold their position in the market competition and occupy a growing market share. First, neonicotinoid insecticides are high-efficiency, low-toxicity and low-persistence products and are in line with domestic and international requirements for environmental protection, environment and food safety. Secondly, every neonicotinoid insecticide can effectively control rice pests singly and is in line with China's pesticide development direction. China's rice planting area reaches more than 33 million hectares, and the Chinese government attaches great importance to rice production and quality. This undoubtedly gives neonicotinoid insecticides a huge market. Thirdly, removing methamidophos and four other kinds of highly toxic pesticides from the market brought a domestic insecticide shortage of over 100 000 tons per year. This vacancy needs high-efficiency, low-toxicity and low-persistence insecticides. In addition, after fipronil was prohibited in the agricultural production, it has also left behind a market