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EFSA Opens Consultation Period on Two Pilot Assessments on the Risks Caused by Multiple Pesticide Residues in Foods
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By Kelly N. Garson and Carla N. Hutton

On September 17, 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opened a consultation period on two pilot assessments of the risks posed to humans by residues of multiple pesticides in food.  EFSA is seeking comments from interested parties on the assessments.  The first assessment considers the chronic effects of multiple pesticides on the thyroid system.  The second looks at acute effects on the nervous system.

EFSA produced the assessments in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment for the Netherlands (RIVM) using monitoring data from 2014, 2015, and 2016.  In approving pesticides for use in the European Union (EU), EFSA establishes a maximum level of pesticide residue (MRL) allowed in food or animal feed.  The MRL considers the cumulative effects of pesticides.  Pesticides may only be placed on the EU market if they have no harmful effects on humans, including cumulative effects.  In the two pilot assessments, EFSA classified pesticides into “cumulative assessment groups” (CAG) based upon whether they produce similar toxic effects in a specific organ or system.  EFSA states that “[t]he overall draft conclusion for both assessments is that consumer risk from dietary cumulative exposure is below the threshold that triggers regulatory action for all the population groups covered.”

In 2020, EFSA will prepare the assessments in final, which will serve to “inform risk managers in the European Commission and Member States who regulate the safe use of pesticides in the EU.”

EFSA will present the assessments at a special stakeholder event in Brussels, Belgium, on October 22, 2019.  The meeting is intended to allow stakeholders with expertise and interest in the area to discuss the technical issues relating to the draft assessments.  Registration for the meeting closes on October 11, 2019.

All comments must be submitted by November 15, 2019.  Comments on the “Cumulative dietary risk characterisation of pesticides that have chronic effects on the thyroid” may be submitted at https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/PC_CRA_Thyroid_Sept-2019.  Comments on the “Cumulative dietary risk characterisation of pesticides that have acute effects on the nervous system” may be submitted at https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/PC_CRA_Nerv_Syst_Sept-2019.

The two draft assessments are available on EFSA’s website.