dimanche 26 février 2017

99- El gran salón de los productos frescos

EL GRAN SALÓN DE LOS PRODUCTOS FRESCOS

Bajo el nombre de FRUIT LOGISTICA, tiene lugar cada año en Berlín, en el mes de febrero, un gran salón profesional dedicado a las frutas y hortalizas frescas. Existen varios otros, por el mundo (Madrid, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo o Dubái, entre otros), y a todo lo largo del año.
Pero el de Berlín es actualmente el más importante en el mundo.
Es cierto que su fecha es especialmente bien elegida, ya que se sitúa antes del inicio de la mayoría de las cosechas importantes del hemisferio norte, marcando de alguna manera el pistoletazo de salida de la campaña agrícola primavera-verano del año en curso.
Para la edición 2017, su 25º aniversario, 84 países estaban representados entre los más de 3.100 expositores, y más de 75.000 visitantes profesionales procedentes de más de 130 países desarrollaron ahí contactos.


Es un salón de productos agrícolas, especializado en frutas y hortalizas, pero sin embargo, no vas a encontrar ahí, ningún tractor, ninguna maquinaria de campo, ningún apero.
Es un salón comercial, tres días durante los cuales se van a negociar las principales transacciones de frutas y hortalizas destinadas a los consumidores durante los meses siguientes. Gran parte de tus compras de los meses de marzo a octubre habrán sido objeto de negociaciones y de acuerdos comerciales durante la Fruit Logistica.

Es un salón en el que el agricultor no tiene por qué estar. Ahí, los actores son los vendedores y los compradores.
Tenemos de un lado los supermercados y los mayoristas, en el papel de comprador, que recorren los pasillos, para ir a sus citas, o buscando alguna novedad, una exclusiva o algo que su competencia no tenga.
Y tenemos del otro lado las cooperativas, las agrupaciones de productores, los expedidores, o algunos grandes productores individuales, que presentan sus productos, su imagen, sus métodos de trabajo, su especificidad, algo que su competencia no tenga, para intentar atraer al comprador potencial.
También se puede encontrar ahí todo lo que hay de más moderno en materia de selección, de calibración, de frío para la conservación, de tecnología no química de conservación, de química compatible con los alimentos, de envasado, de etiquetado, así como de informática especializada y de transporte frigorífico.


En otras palabras, ahí se encuentra todo lo que va hacer que una fruta o una hortícola bruta, recién cosechada, sea transformada en un “objeto de deseo” para los consumidores.


Habrá conferencias para los profesionales, en las que serán presentadas las últimas tendencias de los mercados, las preocupaciones del público, las encuestas de consumo. También serán la ocasión de lanzar nuevos protocolos de calidad, nuevas técnicas de conservación, nuevos tipos de envases, nuevas estrategias comerciales.
Ahí se hablará de volúmenes, de programas, de promociones, de semanas, a veces de precio (pero esto es un criterio que se negocia día tras día, no con varios meses de antelación). También se hablará de métodos y técnicas de producción, de residuos, de certificación, de criterios de calidad.
La unidad de venta en general es el camión, o el contenedor, o más exactamente el camión por día, o el camión por semana. Volúmenes enormes se van a negociar.
Es verdad que es el lanzamiento del principal periodo de consumo de los principales mercados de consumo del hemisferio norte, de lejos el más poblado y el más rico.


Los departamentos marketing de cada una de las empresas presentes habrán hecho maravillas de diseño, de presentación, de colores, de animación, de degustación, de música.
Ahí se respira la alegría artificial, el juego de quien engaña a quien. Hay que parece alegre, pero solo lo justo, rico, pero solo lo justo, serio, pero solo lo justo. Y sobre todo, hay que inspirar confianza y profesionalismo.
Hay que atraer la mirada de nuevos clientes potenciales, sin parecer hacer más que en la realidad. El ambiente es muy distinto del de los salones agrícolas. Se nota que el público a seducir no es el mismo. Es más sofisticado, algunos no cuentan los gastos.


El lado de la producción hará promesas de volúmenes, de fechas de producción, de calidad, de residuos de plaguicidas, de respeto del medioambiente, de respeto de las leyes sociales, de trazabilidad, de higiene, de envasado, de etiquetado.
Tiene la inquietud de encontrar clientes para todos los volúmenes previstos, para todos los niveles de calidad que posiblemente se tengan que vender, con la prioridad de seducir y fidelizar el cliente, con compromisos destinados a mantener los precios en el mejor nivel posible.

El comprador exigirá una trazabilidad, unos compromisos de residuos de plaguicidas, un respeto de las leyes sociales, un tipo detallado de envasado, un tipo de calidad, un etiquetado, una perfecta logística.
Tiene la preocupación de encontrar los productos que corresponden con los objetivos fijados para este año, de encontrar proveedores capaces de cumplir a la vez sus protocolos y sus necesidades de volúmenes, y con la necesidad de encontrar las garantías suficientes de no tener problema, o por lo menos, de poder demostrar que no tiene la culpa, y de poder echarle la responsabilidad al proveedor. Es una cuestión de reputación de la marca que representa.
Se encontrarán acuerdos que le permiten a cada uno preparar la recolección siguiendo sus propios criterios, pero de manera compatible con los criterios comprometidos.

Ahí también se hablará, discretamente, de las consecuencias del no-cumplimiento de los acuerdos, es decir de las sanciones y penalizaciones, que siempre van del comprador hacia el vendedor. También se hablará de comisiones y de retro-comisiones. Ante todo, es comercio, no lo olvidemos.

Se hablará más o menos el  mismo idioma, los unos con necesidades y exigencias, los otros con previsiones y promesas.


Luego cada uno volverá a su casa, contento, o no, de los compromisos acordados, y la campaña empezará, con su previsible lote de imprevistos, las dificultades habituales para cumplir las promesas.

Del lado de la producción, es decir del lado del vendedor, se hará todo lo posible para respetar los compromisos. Los equipos comerciales pondrán en marcha todo lo necesario para que la producción, a menudo ausente en la negociación, pueda respetar los compromisos.
Es cuando se darán cuenta que algunos de esos compromisos son imposibles de cumplir, o pueden necesitar inversiones no contempladas, y para los cuales será necesario mucha imaginación e invención para poder asumirlos.
Los inevitables imprevistos (climáticos, de calidad, de volumen, de logística) obligaran a renegociar, con dos objetivos fundamentales, mantener los precios al mejor nivel posible, y sobre todo preservar su reputación, no pelearse, ya que hará falta seguir vendiendo, año tras año. Pero las cláusulas de penalización empezaran entonces a actuar.

Del lado de la distribución, es decir del comprador, volverán satisfechos de haber podido sellar los compromisos enfocados a cumplir con la programación, aunque a sabiendas de que será casi imposible que la campaña se desarrolle como previsto. Y en el momento de la verdad, todo será hecho para apretar los precios, según la evolución del mercado, para poder mantener los márgenes previstos. Si la calidad no llega al nivel previsto con los proveedores acordados, quizás tengan que buscar otros. Y si los precios no permiten sacar los márgenes previstos, hará falta negociar las compras a la baja, poner en marcha las penalizaciones (o encontrar pretextos cualitativos), ya que el precio de venta al consumidor no va poder variar mucho.


Después de haber concluidos acuerdos en un ambiente festivo, es probable que la campaña se desarrolle con un elevado nivel de tensión, que dichos acuerdos deberían haber evitado.

Pero sería olvidar que hablamos de alimentos, producidos por seres vivos, que viven y reaccionan a numerosas estimulaciones, cuya calidad es variable en función del clima, y que es imposible prever, con varios meses de antelación, cuál será el desarrollo de la campaña.
En el momento de pasar los acuerdos, todo el mundo olvida, de manera más o menos voluntaria, que no hablamos de productos industriales, pero de alimentos cuya calidad nunca es constante, ya que es expuesta a numerosos factores sobre los cuales el productor no tiene poder.

Total, siempre nos olvidamos que estamos hablando de agricultura.
Pero la Naturaleza se encarga de recordar a todos cual es la realidad.



99- The big fresh product trade fair

THE BIG FRESH PRODUCT TRADE FAIR

Under the name of FRUIT LOGISTICA takes place every year in Berlin in February, a large trade fair dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables. There are several others, spread throughout the world (Madrid, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and Dubai, among others) and throughout the calendar.
But Berlin is currently the largest in the world.
It should be said that the date is particularly well chosen, as it is just before the start of most of the major harvests in the northern hemisphere, marking in a way the start of the spring/summer production period of the current year.
For the 2017 edition, its 25th anniversary, 84 countries were represented among the more than 3,100 exhibitors, and more than 75,000 trade visitors from over 130 countries have developed contacts.


It is an agricultural trade show, specializing in fruits and vegetables, yet you will not find tractors, field-machines or tools.
It is a trade fair, three days during which the main transactions of fresh fruits and vegetables destined to the consumers will be negotiated for the following months. Much of your purchases from March to October have been negotiated during the Fruit Logistica.

It is a fair in which the farmer has virtually no place. The actors are sellers, and buyers.
On one side we have supermarkets and wholesalers in the role of the buyer, who walk the corridors, going to their appointments, or trying to find a novelty, an exclusivity or something that their competitors would not have.
On the other side, we have cooperatives, grower groups, shippers, or some large individual growers, who present their products, their image, their working methods, their specificity, something that their competitors would not have, in order to attract the potential buyer.
It will also include all the latest developments in sorting and sizing, cold storage, non-chemical conservation technologies, food-compatible chemistry, packaging, labeling, and specialized computing and refrigerated transport.


In other words, we will find everything that will make a raw fruit or vegetable freshly harvested, transformed into an "object of desire" for consumers.


There will be conferences for professionals, during which the latest market trends, public concerns, consumer surveys will be presented. They will also be an opportunity to launch new quality protocols, new conservation techniques, and new types of packaging, new commercial strategies.
We will talk about volumes, programs, promotions, weeks, possibly prices (but this is a criterion that is negotiated day by day, not several months in advance). It will also talk about production methods and techniques, residues, certification, quality criteria.
The sales unit is often the truck, or the container, or more exactly the truck per day or the truck per week. Gigantic volumes will be negotiated there.
It must be said that this is the launch of the main consumption period of the main consumer markets of the northern hemisphere, by far the most populous and richest.


The marketing departments of each of the companies present will have done wonders of design, presentation, colors, animation, tasting, and music.
One can breathe the artificial cheerfulness, the game of who deceives who. You have to look cheerful, but not too much, rich, but not too much, serious, but not too much. Above all, you must inspire confidence and professionalism.
It is necessary to attract the attention of potential new customers, without appearing to do more than reality.
The atmosphere here is very different from that of the agricultural fairs. One feels that the public to be seduced is not the same. It's more sophisticated, some don't skimp on ways.


The production side will make promises of volumes, timing of production, quality, pesticide residues, respect for the environment, compliance with social laws, traceability, hygiene, packaging, labeling.
They go with the concern to find customers for all the volumes expected, for all the levels of quality that they are likely to have to sell, with the priority of seducing and retaining the customer, with commitments to keep prices at the best possible level.

The buyer will require traceability, pesticide residue commitments, compliance with social laws, a precise type of packaging, a type of quality, labeling, and perfect logistics.
he is concerned to find the products that correspond to the objectives set for this year, to find suppliers capable of meeting both its specifications and its volume requirements, and with the need to find adequate guarantees of not to have a problem, or in any case, in the event of a problem, to be able to demonstrate that he has nothing to do with it, and to reject responsibility on the supplier. It is a question of reputation for the brand it represents.
There will be agreements that will allow everyone to prepare the harvest according to their own criteria, but in a manner consistent with the commitments made.

There will be discrete discussions about the consequences of non-compliance with agreements, and therefore penalties, which always go from the buyer to the seller. There will also be negotiations about commissions and retro-commissions. After all, it's trade, don't forget it.

Everybody will speak about the same language, some will go with needs and demands, others with forecasts and promises.


Then everyone will go back home, happy or not, and the campaign will begin, with its foreseeable lot of imponderables, the usual difficulty to respect the agreements.

On the production side, and therefore on the seller's side, everything will be done to keep the commitments made. The sales teams will then set in motion everything necessary so that the production, often absent in the negotiation, can respect the commitments taken.
At this moment, it will be realized that some of these commitments are untenable, or will require unforeseen investments, and for which it will be necessary to show treasures of inventiveness in order to be able to hold them.
The unavoidable unforeseen (climatic, quality, volume, logistics) will require renegotiations, with two fundamental objectives, to maintain prices at the best possible level, and above all to safeguard its reputation, to avoid a quarrel, because one will have to continue selling, year after year. But the penalty clauses will then come into action.

On the distribution side, and therefore the buyer, they will be pleased to have been able to make commitments to respect the programming, knowing that it will be almost impossible for the campaign to run as planned. And at the moment of truth, they will do everything to tighten prices, depending on the market, to ensure the expected margins. If quality is not forthcoming with the planned suppliers, it may be necessary to look for new ones. And if prices don't allow the margins to be respected, it will be necessary to negotiate purchases downward, to initiate the penalties (or to find qualitative pretexts), because the price of sale to the consumer can't vary a lot.


After the agreements have been passed in good humor, it is likely that the campaign will proceed with a high level of tension that the agreements in question should have avoided.

But it would be to forget that we are talking about food, produced by living beings that live and react to many stimuli, the quality of which varies according to the climate, and that it's impossible to predict how the campaign will unfold.
At the moment of passing these agreements, everyone forgets, more or less voluntarily, that we are not talking about manufactured products, but about foods whose quality is never constant, because it is exposed to many factors on which the grower has no hold.

In short, we always forget that we are talking about agriculture.
But Nature always takes care to remind everyone of reality.


99- Le grand salon des produits frais

LE GRAND SALON DES PRODUITS FRAIS

Sous le nom de FRUIT LOGISTICA a lieu chaque année à Berlin en Février, un grand salon professionnel consacré aux fruits et légumes frais. Il en existe un certain nombre d'autres, répartis à travers le monde (Madrid, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo ou Dubaï, entre autres) et tout au long du calendrier.
Mais celui de Berlin est actuellement le plus important au monde.
Il faut dire que la date est particulièrement bien choisie, puisqu'elle se situe avant le début de la plupart des récoltes importantes de l'hémisphère nord, marquant en quelque sorte de coup d'envoi à la campagne agricole printemps-été de l'année en cours.
Pour l'édition 2017, son 25ème anniversaire, 84 pays étaient représentés parmi les plus de 3.100 exposants, et plus de 75.000 visiteurs professionnels en provenance de plus de 130 pays y ont développé des contacts.


C'est un salon de produits agricoles, spécialisé en fruits et légumes, et pourtant, vous n'y trouverez ni tracteurs, ni machines pour les champs, ni outils.
C'est un salon commercial, trois jours au cours desquels vont se négocier les principales transactions de fruits et légumes frais destinés aux consommateurs pour les mois suivants. Une grande partie de vos achats des mois de mars à octobre auront fait l'objet de négociations et d'accords commerciaux durant la Fruit Logistica.

C'est un salon dans lequel l'agriculteur n'a pratiquement pas sa place. Les acteurs y sont les vendeurs, et les acheteurs.
Nous avons d'un côté les supermarchés et les grossistes dans le rôle de l’acheteur, qui arpentent les couloirs, pour aller à leurs rendez-vous, ou pour dénicher une nouveauté, une exclusivité ou quelque chose que leurs concurrents n'auraient pas.
Nous avons de l'autre côté les coopératives, les groupements de producteurs, les expéditeurs, ou quelques gros producteurs individuels, qui présentent leurs produits, leur image, leurs méthodes de travail, leurs spécificité, quelque chose que leurs concurrents n'auraient pas, afin d'attirer l'acheteur potentiel.
On y trouvera aussi tout ce qui se fait de plus moderne en matière de tri et de calibrage, de froid pour la conservation, de technologies non chimiques de conservation, de chimie compatible avec les aliments, d'emballage, d'étiquetage, ainsi que d'informatique spécialisée et de transport frigorifique.


Autrement dit, on va y trouver tout ce qui va faire qu'un fruit ou un légume brut, fraichement récolté, soit transformé en un "objet de désir" pour les consommateurs.


Il y aura des conférences pour les professionnels, au cours desquelles seront présentés les dernières tendances des marchés, les préoccupations du public, les enquêtes de consommation. Elles seront aussi l'occasion de lancer de nouveaux protocoles de qualité, de nouvelles techniques de conservation, de nouveaux types d'emballages, de nouvelles stratégies commerciales.
On va y parler volumes, programmes, promotions, semaines, éventuellement prix (mais ça, c'est un critère qui se  négocie au jour le jour, pas plusieurs mois à l'avance). On y parlera aussi méthodes et techniques de production, résidus, certification, critères de qualité.
L'unité de vente y est souvent le camion, ou le container, ou plus exactement le camion par jour ou le camion par semaine. Des volumes gigantesques vont y être négociés.
Il faut dire que c'est le lancement de la principale période de consommation des principaux marchés de consommation de l'hémisphère nord, de loin le plus peuplé et le plus riche.


Les départements marketing de chacune des entreprises présentes aura fait des merveilles de design, de présentation, de couleurs, d'animation, de dégustation, de musique.
On y respire la gaieté artificielle, le jeu de qui trompe qui. Il faut avoir l'air joyeux, mais pas trop, riche, mais pas trop, sérieux, mais pas trop. Et surtout, il faut inspirer confiance et professionnalisme.
Il faut attirer le regard de nouveaux clients potentiels, sans paraitre en faire plus que la réalité.
L'ambiance y est très différente de celle des salons agricoles. On sent que le public à séduire n'est pas le même. C'est plus sophistiqué, certains ne lésinent pas sur les moyens.


Le côté de la production fera des promesses de volumes, de calendrier de production, de qualité, de résidus de pesticides, de respect de l'environnement, de respect des lois sociales, de traçabilité, d'hygiène, d'emballage, d'étiquetage.
On y va avec l’inquiétude de trouver des clients pour tous les volumes prévus, pour tous les niveaux de qualité qu’on risque de devoir vendre, avec la priorité de séduire et fidéliser le client, avec des engagements destinés à maintenir les prix au meilleur niveau possible.

L'acheteur exigera une traçabilité, des engagements de résidus de pesticides, un respect des lois sociales, un type d'emballage précis, un type de qualité, un étiquetage, une parfaite logistique.
Il y va avec la préoccupation de trouver les produits qui correspondent avec les objectifs fixés pour cette année, de trouver les fournisseurs capables de respecter à la fois ses cahiers des charges et ses besoins en volumes, et avec le besoin de trouver les garanties suffisantes de ne pas avoir de problème, ou en tout cas, en cas de problème, de pouvoir démontrer qu’il n’y est pour rien, et en rejeter la responsabilité sur le fournisseur. C’est une question de réputation pour la marque qu’il représente.
On y trouvera des accords qui permettront à chacun de préparer la récolte selon ses propres critères, mais de manière compatible avec les engagements pris.

On y parlera, discrètement, des conséquences du non-respect des accords, donc des sanctions et pénalisations, qui vont toujours de l’acheteur vers le vendeur. On y parlera aussi de commissions et de rétro-commissions. C’est avant tout du commerce, ne l’oublions pas.

On parlera à peu près le même langage, les uns iront avec des besoins et des exigences, les autres avec des prévisions et des promesses.


Puis chacun rentrera chez soi, content, ou pas, des engagements pris, et la campagne commencera, avec son lot prévisible d'impondérables, la difficulté habituelle à respecter les accords.

Du côté de la production, donc du côté du vendeur, on fera tout pour tenir les engagements pris. Les équipes commerciales mettront alors en branle tout le nécessaire pour que la production, souvent absente dans la négociation, puisse respecter les engagements pris.
On se rendra alors compte que certains de ces engagements sont intenables, ou nécessiteront des investissements imprévus, et pour lesquels il faudra montrer des trésors d'inventivité pour pouvoir les tenir.
Les inévitables imprévus (climatiques, de qualité, de volume, de logistique) obligeront à des renégociations, avec deux objectifs fondamentaux, maintenir les prix au meilleur niveau possible, et surtout sauvegarder sa réputation, ne pas se brouiller, car il faudra continuer à vendre, année après année. Mais les clauses de pénalisation entreront alors en action.

Du côté de la distribution, donc de l'acheteur, on rentrera satisfait d'avoir pu prendre les engagements destinés à respecter la programmation, tout en sachant qu'il sera à peu près impossible que la campagne se déroule comme prévu. Et au moment de vérité, on fera tout pour serrer les prix, en fonction du marché, afin d'assurer les marges prévues. Si la qualité n'est pas au rendez-vous avec les fournisseurs prévus, il faudra peut-être en chercher d'autres. Et si les prix ne permettent pas de dégager les marges prévues, il faudra négocier les achats à la baisse, mettre en route les pénalisations (ou trouver des prétextes qualitatifs), car le prix de vente au consommateur ne pourra pas varier beaucoup.


Après que les accords aient été passés dans la bonne humeur, il est probable que la campagne se déroulera avec un niveau élevé de tension que les accords en question auraient dû éviter.

Mais ce serait oublier que nous parlons d'aliments, produits par des êtres vivants, qui vivent et réagissent à de nombreuses stimulations, dont la qualité est variable en fonction du climat, et qu'il est impossible de prévoir, plusieurs mois à l'avance, comment se déroulera la campagne.
Au moment de passer ces accords, tout le monde oublie, plus ou moins volontairement, que nous ne parlons pas de produits manufacturés, mais d'aliments dont la qualité n'est jamais constante, car elle est exposées à de très nombreux facteurs sur lesquels le producteur n'a pas de prise.

Bref, on oublie toujours que nous parlons d'agriculture.
Mais la Nature se charge toujours de rappeler tout le monde à la réalité.


samedi 4 février 2017

98- Natural vs synthetic -2- Neem oil vs azadirachtin

NEEM OIL VS AZADIRACHTINE

In order for you to understand the idea of ​​this series, or at least the thesis I am trying to defend, I take this first example which is, in my opinion, one of the most typical.
To tell you all, I came up with the idea of ​​making a series when I was starting to write this article. This case is one among many others.

Human being have become what he is today, thanks in particular to his ability to observe his environment and to draw conclusions for his own benefit.
The observation of Nature allowed him to extract substances to meet his own needs. And since he learned, thanks to chemistry, to synthesize molecules, his first source of inspiration, at least as far as agro chemistry is concerned, has always been Nature itself.
Botanists observe a phenomenon of self-defense or toxicity in plants. They analyze it, send it to chemists, who determine the molecules involved in the phenomenon, synthesize them, study them, and then try to improve them.
This process, simple in itself, has already been repeated thousands of times to obtain medicines, textile fibers or pesticides.


NEEM OIL

Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of a tree originally from India, the Indian Lilac (Azadirachta indica). The use of this fast growing tree, well adapted to drought conditions, has spread to all South Asia, Africa and South America. 

Picture: http://www.ecologiaverde.com/wp-content/2014/12/Que-es-el-aceite-Neem.jpg

Neem oil is a widely used traditional product and has been used for centuries in India and Africa in particular for its fungicidal, insecticidal, and bactericidal effects in the treatment or prevention of lice, malaria, skin diseases, but also as a contraceptive. The list of his real or supposed actions is immense.

Its use in agriculture is quite recent. The properties as insecticide, nematicide and miticide of this extract are now well known. The active natural molecules that constitute neem oil are numerous, there are more than twenty, which explains the versatility of its use. Among these, the main for its use in agriculture, is azadirachtin, and essential secondary are salanin, meliantrol, nimbolid, nimbid, and nimbidinic acid. This versatility makes it an elemental commodity for organic farming. It is also authorized by the European Commission. Yet some countries like France don't allow this substance, which does not prevent the farmers to use it widely, despite the legal prohibition. The law is very clear on this, any product that has not been legally authorized for a concrete use is strictly prohibited for this use. But some, as you can see in the following report, don't really care of this. In the following French report, a French organic farmer explains that he uses neem oil systematically, and that he does not know any organic farmer who is not using it, even if it is forbidden.

  
However, this oil, so versatile, also presents some defects. It is precisely because of its versatility that it can be suspected. It is very toxic to bumble bees and many hymenoptera (except honeybees), is toxic to aquatic fauna, and ranks among endocrine disruptors.
Its versatility is precisely one of the criteria that suspects its negative side effects. A very specific product leaves little room for surprise, unlike products with broad spectrum of action. This is one of the criteria that guided the elimination of molecules by the European Commission.
The production of oil takes place in several regions and countries. It may be derived from specific plantations, or isolated trees, arid zones or wetlands, irrigated or not irrigated crops. This great variability in the origin of the oil causes a great variability in its chemical composition and in the proportions in active molecules. I have already succinctly addressed this question in a recent article https://culturagriculture.blogspot.com.es/2016/12/95-spirit-of-plants-7-life-lessons-from.html

It must also be pointed out that the extraction of oil is often done in a very artisanal way, from isolated trees or plantations of very different regions and climates, and therefore that its homogeneity is very variable. Commercial products guarantee a constant level of neem oil, but they can't guarantee a constant level of active ingredients, especially azadirachtin.
On the other hand, this oil is thermosensitive, which means that above 50ºC, its composition degrades. Therefore, as being produced in hot countries, its conditions of production, storage and transport will strongly influence its potential as a pesticide.


It is therefore very difficult for the farmer to make a reliable use of it, since the levels of active ingredients are not constant.
Finally, it should also be pointed out that, in the artisanal conditions of its production and transformation, its origin in countries that are often poor and with doubtful social conditions, the risks of pollution of the local environment or of poisoning of employees are high.
It should be noted that, being a natural product, the homologation process is much lighter than for synthetic molecules. However, as legislators have realized that everything natural is not always good for health or for the environment, the process of registering so-called "natural" pesticides is being strengthened.
Yet there remains one point that legislative reinforcements will not solve in the short term, residues. Indeed, when we analyze residues, we only finds molecules that we know and that we seek, since the available technologies don't make possible to work otherwise. In this case, azadirachtin can be found. But what about the other twenty molecules naturally present in the oil? They are not sought after. So it is not known if they leave residues potentially swallowed by consumers. Worse, this twenty molecules are not the subject of environmental and health studies. Do they pose health risks? Nobody knows. Yet no one thinks of putting forward the principle of precaution. Since it's natural!



AZADIRACHTIN

Chemists, after studying the properties of this "miraculous" oil, learned to synthesize the main ingredient, azadirachtin. The structure of the synthetic molecule is exactly the same as the one of the natural molecule, but it is freed from its impurities, unnecessary molecules (for agricultural use), its quality and concentration are constant, its efficiency is greatly increased, and its side effects are the same with respect to the molecule, but less with respect to the formulated product (since the secondary molecules have been eliminated).
This formulated product is therefore a synthetic pesticide, which is an exact copy of a natural molecule. Being a synthetic pesticide, it had to pass, before it was placed on sale, the whole process, very long and very expensive, of European approval first, and then national approval. The studies include toxicity to birds, mammals, aquatic fauna, beneficial insects (including bees and bumble bees), soil, surface and groundwater, degradability in water, air, soil, or by light, on its effects on health (for example its effects as an endocrine disruptor).

Picture: http://www.alanwood.net/pesticides/structures/azadirachtin.gif

As a user, I may, depending on the circumstances, need to use one or the other. I can tell you from personal experience, that the use of synthetic azadirachtin is much safer than neem oil.
Azadirachtin, certified on stone fruits, is consistently dosed, its use is simple, and its effectiveness without surprise, in the usual margins of the vagaries of the effectiveness of all pesticides.
Since neem oil is not dosed in active ingredient, but in oil concentration, its effectiveness varies greatly from one brand to another, and in the same brand, from one lot to another.
A farmer never uses pesticides, synthetic or natural, for pleasure. If he does, it is because he needs to do it because his crop and his income are in danger. When he does, it has previously studied the advantages and disadvantages of each of the solutions it has, and he chooses product and dose to obtain the maximum efficiency with the minimum of disadvantages.
If the batch of oil he receives, for whatever reason, does not give the expected results, he will have to renew the intervention, with all costs and environmental risks that it supposes.
This is not the case with azadirachtin.

And finally, residues are analyzed. The molecule is identified and known, in a way that the equipment can measure it precisely. There is no risk of unpleasant surprises.




Then of course, one can doubt everything.
Some say that neem oil has fewer side effects than azadirachtin alone, because the cocktail of molecules has a mitigating effect.
Personally, I would tend to think otherwise. The cocktail of molecules is derived from the botanical history of the tree and derives from its needs of self-defense (http://culturagriculture.blogspot.com.es/2015/09/52-spirit-of-plants-2-self-defense.html). The cocktail has a real reason for existing, and Nature rarely works for nothing. If these molecules exist, it's not to neutralize each other, but to strengthen the self-defense.
I tend to think that the longer a species has been domesticated (especially selected and hybridized), the lower its self-defense capacity is (except for certain species, such as cannabis or poppy, whose selection seeks precisely to strengthen its potential to produce alkaloids). Today the neem tree has never been domesticated, just used in its natural state, and the current plantations for plant extracts are all made from wild varieties.

Picture: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-QyqvdtiUnM/maxresdefault.jpg

I couldn't find a single serious study that compares, in terms of efficacy, environmental effects and residues, neem oil and synthetic azadirachtin. Everything I found is based on unproven and clearly subjective assertions.
Obviously, those who defend the safety of neem oil are the mediums of organic farming. This is very logical since they need it and have few alternatives. This is all the more logical because, being used massively, and sometimes without authorization, it is necessary to find a justification.
But I can't help but be surprised that those who defend the interest of the neem oil molecule cocktail, are also those who attack pesticide cocktails in conventional agriculture (something I don't question, but I await the scientific results necessary to take position).
What is supposedly true in conventional would not be true in organic?

There is reason to be surprised.


All this to tell you, and this is the purpose of this first example, that neem oil is allowed (except in some specific cases), widely used and praised in organic farming. However, its heterogeneity, its extraction methods, its side effects, its effects of endocrine disruptor, seem not to disturb anybody. The farmer has a pretty can of a few liters, very clean, safe and well labeled. He does not arise the question of what it may have involved, before.
Azadirachtin, on the other hand, is prohibited in organic farming. It is however the same molecule, whose side effects are the same, but whose homogeneity is total, the method of production is controlled and safe. It had to go through several commissions that established conditions of use for each crop, residue levels, pre-harvest employment terms, safety standards for handling, storage and use.

Picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YGYTxifhUHY/U6f3_HIyylI/AAAAAAAAJsg/_CpTUsjKpYA/s1600/ARBOL+DE+neem1.jpg


In this first match, it is obviously azadirachtin that is gaining, as much for its effectiveness as for the control of its effects on environment and on health, but also by the security that it brings thanks to a strict registration process and with periodic review.
In this case, undoubtedly, the use in conventional agriculture of azadirachtin is safer than the use, in organic farming as in conventional agriculture, of neem oil.

This is a flagrant case, in which organic ideology prefers to accept health and environmental risks, rather than to relax its criteria, in a precise situation, although the general philosophy is not really questioned.
It is, however, fair to recognize that the exact synthesis copy is more effective and presents less risk than the original natural extract.
But it seems that reason is really weak, when it's facing dogma.


So why a conventional farmer like me, may be led to use an organic pesticide like neem oil, if it has an advantageous synthetic alternative like azadirachtin?
This is an interesting question to which I will reply in a specific article. Especially since it concerns neem oil as well as all organic pesticides.

Picture: http://www.hsnstore.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/bio.jpg