The Biochemistry and Chemical Analysis Laboratory Unit has obtained this October 2022 the extension of the ENAC accreditation (obtained in 2021) as agricultural product certifier, for the analysis of heavy metals and the hormone 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BAP) in agricultural products.
We interviewed Belen Lopez Garcia, Head of the Biochemistry Unit and Chemical Analysis Laboratory.
Can you tell us about ENAC accreditation itself, and what recognition it has at national and international level?
The National ACcreditation Entity (ENAC) is the body designated by the Spanish Administration to establish the accreditation system at national level, in accordance with international standards and following the policies established by the European Union.
In technical terms, NTC-ISO/IEC 17011 defines accreditation as follows: “third party attestation of a conformity assessment body as a formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks”. In simple terms, accreditation is the procedure by which an authorised body – in this case ENAC, gives formal recognition that a body – in this case Futureco Bioscience, is competent to perform a specific task. The accreditation process in summary consists of validating (with an audit) if the company meets the specified requirements in accordance with the conformity of an applicable regulation by means of rules and procedures to carry out a certification. Accreditation is therefore a higher level than certification and is in practice a “licence” to provide certification services.
Since 5 February 2021, in the Chemical Analysis Laboratory internal to Futureco Bioscience we are working with ENAC accreditation, and therefore we can generate certificates of analysis of different nutrients and trace elements.
What are the benefits for Futureco Bioscience to have an accredited in-house laboratory to certify agricultural products?
FUTURECO BIOSCIENCE S.A. is an agri-biotechnology company focused on research and innovation of biological products for crop protection and nutrition.
The accreditation of chemical analysis methods is not only an excellent tool to guarantee the composition of our agricultural products to our customers, but also helps us to consolidate our continuous improvement process, and to reinforce two of the key concepts of the FUTURECO BIOSCIENCE brand philosophy: high quality and in-house approach.
What does the extension of accreditation for the analysis of heavy metals and the hormone 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BAP) mean?
We have recently obtained the extension of our accreditation for the analysis of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, and zinc) and the hormone 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BAP).
Most foods naturally contain metals in their composition. But heavy metals can accumulate in soils and substrates, alter their biological balance, and affect crop yields and animal health, including human health. In 2019, the European Union adopted new legislation that sets limit values for heavy metal content below those currently contained in national regulations for fertilizer products and for the use of treated sewage sludge in agricultural soils. The aim is to achieve a high level of protection of agricultural soils, especially about possible contamination by Cadmium. Thanks to the extension of the ENAC accreditation we can now guarantee our customers that the heavy metal content complies with the limits set by different regulations depending on the country of export and certify our agricultural products as CE.
The same applies to the hormone 6-BAP: a broad-spectrum plant growth regulating cytokinin that stimulates cell division and thus promotes plant development and increased yields. Thanks to the extension of the range of accredited analyses at Futureco Bioscience, we can certify the exact amount of this molecule in some of our agricultural products, such as Citogrower.
How do you think this new achievement will impact the company’s business?
Our customers will benefit from the same quality as always, but with a wider range of warranties and certifications, which adds an additional seal of quality to our brand, minimizes risk, and sets us apart from the competition.
With this extension, together with the original accreditation obtained last year, we can autonomously issue certificates of analysis for most of the guarantees present in our products, valid for both the national and international market. This allows us to accelerate the processes for the fulfilment of the legal requirements for export, as well as to expand the market for our products by obtaining new commercial authorizations.
We are convinced that joining an internationally recognized system, transparently submitting to the scrutiny of competences and skills in the generation of test results will certainly generate additional confidence in our products as well as in our brand. This becomes even more important in international trade, where buyers and sellers may need a higher level of confidence in quality assurance.
Are there any other accreditation extensions, as acricultural products certifier, in sight that you are working on?
One of our next objectives is the validation of methodologies for the quantification of different forms of nitrogen.
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient in crop production, but also one of the most difficult to manage. The compound is fundamental to global agricultural production but excess nitrogen from fertilizers leaches into the environment with harmful consequences. Therefore, as demand for nitrogen fertilizer continues to rise, the challenge of nitrogen management is to provide enough to meet global food security needs but, at the same time, minimize the flow of unused nitrogen, which is 300 times more polluting than carbon dioxide, into the environment.
At the analytical level, the challenge is that, although nitrogen is quantified and reported as the element, during its journey through the biogeochemical cycle it passes through a variety of chemical species. Some methods can quantify it directly as total nitrogen, but it is better to measure each of its forms to sum it up. This allows us to have an “X-ray” of the state of the system in which nitrogen is analyzed.