Public concern raises the need for a pesticide risk assessment system

A “traffic light” grading system based on a pesticide’s safety profile was one option being considered to improve the regulatory system for product selection, according to the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides chairman, David Coggon.

The proposed system listed products as first, second or third in line, depending on their implications of use and farmers would be required to give a reason for choosing anything other than “first in line” pesticides, he explained.

“It’s one of several possible options for comparative risk assessment and it is quite likely it won’t come to anything, but it should be considered.”

Other options for improving comparative risk assessments include prohibiting the use of active substances or products that are considered more hazardous than alternatives for a particular situation.

For most growers using products listed as first in line, it was un-likely they would have to do anything different under the proposed system, but there could be extra paperwork for those justifying using second or third in line products, he said.

Regulators are also considering the impact of combined exposure to differenct pesticides, he said.

A new risk assessment system is currently being developed Changes to the product risk assessment system was being driven by increasing public concern about the possible environmental and health implications of pesticide use, Professor Coggon added.

“The public expects a high quality of standards with relation to the effect of pesticides on the environment and food quality. Regulators need to reflect these expectations, based on sound scientific knowledge.”

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