Persistence, metabolism and safety evaluation of thiamethoxam in tomato crop



BACKGROUND: Thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid insecticide, has been widely accepted for use in various crops, including vegetables, owing to its high efficacy against various chewing and sucking insect pests. In this particular study, the authors examined the residue dynamics of this insecticide in tomato and soil and calculated a safety index for this insecticide in an Indian context.

RESULTS: In tomato fruits, the insecticide dissipated from 82 to 87% in 10 days with a half-life of 4 days, whereas dissipation in soil, under tomato crop, varied between 72 and 75% in 15 days with a half-life of 9 days. Total residues reached below detectable level in 15 days in tomato fruits and 20 days in soil. Maximum damage (30%) was found in control plots, as opposed to 8–10% of fruit damage in treated plots. One degradation product was detected on the tomato fruit surface, and three metabolites were identified in tomato fruits by the LC-MS technique. The metabolites have been reported for the first time in tomato fruits.

CONCLUSION: Thiamethoxam at normal and double the recommended use rate effectively controlled aphids, whiteflies and Helicoverpa, as the insect population decreased to a minimum within 10 days of spraying in comparison with the control. There was no significant difference between the two rates of application, and both thiamethoxam treatments significantly increased tomato fruit yield compared with the untreated control. A maximum residue limit (MRL) of 0.05 mg kg−1 for tomato has been proposed, with a corresponding preharvest interval (PHI) of 8 days. These parallel advances in toxicology and analytical chemistry have strengthened the observations that thiamethoxam can be used safely and efficiently in crop protection programmes. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry