EFSA welcomes summary opinions covering main scientific principles adopted by its pesticides panel during its first three years

On the eve of the inaugural meeting of its renewed[1] Panel on Plant protection products and their residues (PPR Panel), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) welcomes the publishing of two major opinions summarizing the key scientific principles from the Opinions produced by its PPR Panel during its first three years of operation. The two Opinions which were prepared at the initiative of the PPR Panel itself cover human toxicology and environmental aspects related to the use of pesticides.

By publishing these two Opinions, the PPR Panel is providing a reference guidance for risk assessors and experts on all main scientific principles adopted in this area. These two Summary Opinions will make available to a wider scientific user community information on the work of the PPR Panel where key scientific principles are often immersed in technical replies to specific scientific questions.

Dr. Herman Koëter, EFSA’s Acting Executive Director commenting on the publication of the Opinions said:

“I welcome the publishing of these two Summary Opinions on pesticide risk assessment. EFSA often works with many diverse and complex scientific fields related to our mandate and this is one of them. Whilst the documents are aimed at experts in the field, they will also serve to better explain the scientific principles underlying EFSA’s risk assessment activities to a broader audience and will help demonstrate the high level of EFSA’s scientific excellence in the field of plant protection products and their residues. This is particularly important if you consider that consumers in the EU consider pesticides to be at the top of their list of issues for concern in terms of food safety[2].”

One of the Opinions covers scientific principles underlying pesticide risk assessment, notably concerning their toxicity for humans[3] (i.e. how they affect people either working with pesticides or exposed to pesticides through food). The second Opinion covers issues related to environmental risk assessment, taking into account exposure, ecotoxicology, fate (i.e. what happens to pesticides in the environment) and residues of pesticides[4]. The Opinions give guidance for future risk assessment, include recommendations and identify future needs for work in pesticide risk assessment.

The Opinions are available at:

More information on the PPR Panel

Notes to editors

EFSA is involved in the risk assessment of pesticides, evaluating the risks for people who come into contact with pesticides, consumers of pesticide treated food and the environment. EFSA’s pesticides risk assessment activities are carried out at two main levels:

  • EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR Panel) deals with specific and often complex technical questions/aspects relating to the risk assessment of plant protection products/pesticides. The two opinions covered in this press release are a summary of the main principles resulting from this work. For further information:  Panel on plant protection products and their residues  .
  • EFSA’s Pesticide Risk Assessment Peer Review Unit (PRAPeR) is responsible for the peer review of initial risk assessments carried out by designated Member States on new or existing pesticides (active substances used in plant protection products) and for providing reports on the evaluation of these pesticides to the European Commission. For further information: Pesticide Risk Assessment Peer Review Unit .

Although not related to pesticide risk assessment, a new EFSA Panel on plant health (PLH) was created in June 2006 to tackle an increasing number of requests for scientific assessment of plant health risks (such as plant pests and diseases which can cause harm to plants, plant products or biodiversity). This new Panel has taken over part of the original mandate of the former PPR Panel which was previously responsible for plant health issues. For further information: Panel on Plant health

[1] With the renewal of EFSA’s scientific panels, the PPR Panel’s name and mandate have changed from Panel on Plant Health, plant protection products and their residues” to “Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues”, reflecting the Panel’s main work related to pesticide risk assessment issues. Questions on plant health will now be dealt with in the new Panel on Plant Health (PLH). For further information see Notes for Editors.
[2] According to the 2006 Eurobarometer survey on risk issues, pesticide residues are the number one consumer concern with respect to risks associated with food, closely followed by new viruses (avian influenza), residues in meats, food hygiene outside the home and contamination by bacteria like salmonella or listeria. ( Risk communication )
[3] Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Plant health, Plant protection products and their Residues on the scientific principles in the assessment and guidance provided in the field of human toxicology between 2003 and 2006.
[4] Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Plant health, Plant protection products and their Residues on the scientific principles in the assessment and guidance provided in the area of environmental fate, exposure, ecotoxicology, and residues between 2003 and 2006.

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