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China to Require Barcodes for Tracking Pesticides

Nov. 3, 2017, 11:18 AM

China will require pesticide packaging labels to include two-dimensional barcodes, a change that will allow Chinese officials to better monitor the use, transportation, and storage of pesticides, the government said.

The move is the latest among a flurry of changes to China’s pesticide management policies this year that have prompted industry concerns about implementation and the timelines for compliance, which will likely lead to higher costs and product delays.

Pesticide registration processes in China are now under the Ministry of Agriculture, which is also in the process of setting up a special office for handling registrations and oversight. The “quick response” barcode requirement begins Jan. 1, 2018. Quick response codes can hold more data than the linear barcodes found on most consumer goods in U.S. stores.

All of these new testing and labeling processes mean there will be increased costs for industry, Tao Chuanjiang, from the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals under the ministry said.

“It is challenging,” Chen Tiechun, a researcher at the institute said of the new registration system at a Chemical Regulations Annual Conference in Hangzhou.

“We know of the impacts from all these new protocols, how it affects pesticide research and development,” Chen said. “These require a lot of data, a lot of testing. We are setting out to study about a transition process [for industry to comply].”

There also are changes related to toxicology testing, and risk and safety assessments, with requirements for such testing to be completed at laboratories in China or those approved by the agriculture ministry abroad.

The risk and safety assessment changes are “major updates and it will take time to adapt,” particularly as China moves toward lower toxicity pesticides and focuses on quality, safety, and human and animal health impacts, Jing Liguo, a representative of Shenyang Research Institute of the Chemical Industry, said.

Imported, Produced Pesticides

The quick response codes on pesticide labels will link to a URL that will identify the pesticide type registration code and number, production type code, product specification code, and a series of random numbers making it unique for that company, Chen said.

“If you sell or produce or import pesticides, you’ll have to have the QR code,” Chen said. “If the product is in China it will need a QR code for tracing the product” as part of safe management measures for pesticides in the country.

Chen said that there are now 29 institutions that comply with China’s good laboratory practice requirements, mainly in China but also including some in Germany and the Netherlands. There are none yet in the U.S., Chen said.

“We are working with [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] on promoting mutual recognition, and have started lab certification procedures, but the mutual recognition requirements have to be submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval,” Chen said.

“Much of this will be faster once we have global mutual recognition agreements.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Standaert in Hangzhou, China at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at