EFSA welcomes stakeholder views on cumulative assessment group methodology

Stakeholders have delivered their feedback on EFSA’s new approach for grouping pesticides that paves the way for implementing cumulative risk assessment of these substances. Engaging with stakeholders plays an important role in the development of EFSA’s scientific work. The Authority is pleased to present the responses to the recent public consultation on its work on cumulative assessment groups (CAGs) of pesticides. The opinion identifies pesticides to be included in groups for joint assessment based on their toxicological properties in a specific organ or organ system.

The 10-week public consultation was launched in July 2013 to coincide with publication of the CAG opinion by EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR). EFSA received 69 comments from a diverse range of stakeholders: research institutes, EU risk assessors, international scientific bodies and industry representatives.  Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback in two areas: to refine the way the methodology is applied in practice; and to contribute to establishing further cumulative assessment groups. (As a first step, EFSA’s opinion had defined CAGs for the thyroid and central nervous systems only.)

Luc Mohimont, deputy head of EFSA’s Pesticide Unit, said: “EFSA greatly values feedback from its stakeholders. We have carefully analysed all the comments received and responded to each one. Where appropriate, EFSA will take comments into account as the CAG methodology is further developed and implemented.”

Broad consensus for EFSA’s methodology

EFSA says there was general support from stakeholders for the methodology and its contribution towards implementing cumulative risk assessment of pesticides in the EU.  Representatives from the pesticides industry, however, questioned the scientific robustness of an approach that leads to the formation of large CAGs. EFSA notes these concerns but says that current gaps in scientific knowledge mean a conservative approach is needed to deliver a high level of consumer protection.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that dialogue between EFSA and its international partners would be valuable in developing the CAG approach further. EFSA welcomes this proposal and looks forward to ongoing exchanges with the international scientific community on the methodology.

EFSA’s next steps will focus on carrying out full cumulative risk assessments for the CAGs already established by the PPR Panel and deriving additional CAGs for other organs and organ systems.

“We have established a method that assesses the cumulative toxicity of pesticides. This is crucial but we now have to implement it,” said Mr Mohimont. “The next major element involves the assessment of human exposure to multiple chemicals. EFSA, alongside the European Commission and Member States, is now taking steps to implement the cumulative risk assessment in the framework of the legislation on pesticide residues. We are also working with our partners to establish further CAG groups for pesticides having adverse effects on the eye, the liver, the adrenals and on the reproduction and development systems.”

Stakeholder meeting

As part of its ongoing commitment to openness and transparency, EFSA will hold a stakeholder meeting on 11 February 2014 with around 100 participants to further discuss its CAG methodology. Registration for the event is closed but details about the meeting will be published shortly after it takes place.

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