EFSA to look at the cumulative risk from pesticides

Posted Jan 28, 2016 by Karen Graham
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has started a new, year-long pilot study that will assess the cumulative risks from pesticides on the thyroid and nervous system.
The EFSA, along with its European partners, has developed a new software tool for carrying out consumer exposure assessments on multiple pesticides.
The results of the study will be published at the end of the year, and will be considered when the EFSA produces two scientific reports on cumulative risk assessments for the thyroid and the nervous systems in 2017, according to Food Safety news.
Looking toward the future, the EFSA plans to include high-level cumulative risk assessments into its annual analysis of the chronic and acute risks to humans posed by pesticides. The data is being collected by member states.
Monte Carlo Risk Assessment (MCRA) tool
The Monte Carlo Risk Assessment tool was developed through a project funded by the European Commission, and involved researchers, scientists, and regulators from 14 countries, overseen by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment for the Netherlands (RIVM).
In 2015, the EFSA funded additional development on the MCRA tool that allowed cumulative assessment on groups of pesticides containing up to 100 substances, based on guidance from the EFSA Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues.
With experience gained from initial assessments, the software tool can be optimized to produce data that can ensure its fitness for its purpose in the context of regulatory decisions on applications concerning maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides in food.
“This is an exciting and significant development,” said Luc Mohimont, from EFSA’s pesticides unit. “ Progress has been made in developing an approach for carrying out reliable exposure assessments of multiple pesticides, which takes us a step closer to our ultimate goal: to carry out comprehensive risk assessments of the combined effects on humans of pesticides, rather than just individual chemicals.”
Cumulative Assessment Groups (CAGS)
The methodology for classifying pesticides into CAGS is based on identifying compounds that exhibit similar toxicological properties in a specific organ or system. As a first step in the process, the thyroid and nervous system were selected.
There is a specific criterion that has been developed for a pesticide to be included into a group. This includes identifying pesticides that produce similar toxic effects in a specific organ or system. There are four stages in the assessment of a pesticide before its inclusion into a specific group, involving detailed analysis and the interpretation of large volumes of data.
The EU regulation on MRLs stipulates that cumulative effects of pesticides should be taken into account when pesticides are placed on the market. Pesticides should have no harmful effects — including cumulative effects — on humans.