Authena: the end-to-end technology framework to restore public trust in agrochemicals

23 Apr, 2021

Agrochemical industry

Apart from being a profit-generating industry, agriculture is our main element of survival, and for this reason it is often under severe scrutiny by public authorities and the entire society. The world population is growing fast, and the agricultural sector is facing the hard challenge of producing more food to feed an increasing number of people with a smaller rural labor force.

In its support, technology and innovation are trying to raise productivity by protecting crops and selecting more resistant varieties. However, the adoption of these new technologies is often controversial and not always commonly accepted. For instance, the use of pesticides has increased farm profits and productivity over the years. On the other hand, pesticides can also represent a threat to the environment, the farmers, and the consumers.

Agrochemical product authorization

Because of agrochemicals potential dangerousness, their development requires on average eleven years of study and trials, followed by rigorous authorization processes. Even after products have been launched in the market, they must go through periodical reviews and post commercial monitoring on safety and long-term health and environmental effects. Public access to this safety data has always been partial and inefficiently provided by companies through product labels, brochures or company websites. This lack of information has contributed to increasing public suspicions and fear about the potential harmful side effects of crop protection products. The consequent shared distrust towards the agrochemical industry has prompted several public protests over the years.

Studies on agrochemicals and pesticides

In October 2017 a citizens’ public initiative supported by more than 1 million statements from 22 Member States was officially submitted to the EU Commission requesting to “protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”. As a result, through the Regulation 2019/1381, the EU established the need for improved transparency, a clear risk communication and an increased independence of studies for agrochemicals. Indeed, starting from March 2021, studies and data of technical dossiers for pesticides, biopesticides and genetically modified organisms, including applications for authorizations, are to be made public proactively and automatically, through the European Food Safety Aithority website.

For sure this will allow the scientific and regulatory communities to access and dispose of centralized safety data to enhance the risk assessment procedures. However, being left aside, farmers, final users, and the whole society still will not be directly involved. And forgetting to address the population, which raised the transparency problem in the first place, will not help the citizens to recover confidence in agrochemicals. The consequences of that can be spotted in Switzerland, where the public concern about agrochemicals has reached such a level that on June the 13th 2021 a popular vote will take place in order to ban pesticides throughout the country.

Help for plant protection companies

In this scenario, Authena can help crop protection companies to reach a renewed level of credibility. Based on a combination between blockchain and interactive Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, Authena plug & play solution allows clear and immediate access to already existent and always updated safety data related to pesticides. The NFC seals, singularly attached to crop protection products, can be read with a simple tap of a smartphone. This lets everyone instantly verify where the product comes from, how to use it, whether it’s been tampered with, where it sits in the supply chain, and when it expires. Producers committed with sustainability and environmental practices can now leverage on Authena end-to-end technology framework to:

  • Generate public trust and simplify farmers’ user experience
  • Inform consumers of the safety standards achieved during the production process
  • Provide detailed usage instructions on how to increase crop yield and reduce water consumption

Through its industry-specific solution, Authena offers crop protection companies a unique opportunity to reestablish farmers’ and consumers’ confidence by ensuring product safety, integrity, authenticity, and full traceability.

Alessandro Tacconelli

authentication technologies for chemicals in agriculture