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Risk assessment of plant protection products

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Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Scientific achievements, challenges and perspectives of the European Food Safety Authority: Taking stock of the 10 years activities and looking ahead


EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR Panel) provides independent scientific advice in the field of risk assessment of plant protection products (PPPs, pesticides). Since its establishment in 2003 under Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, it has delivered a series of scientific outputs in support of evaluation of pesticide active substances, establishing scientific principles and guidance documents in the field of pesticide risk assessment and in support of decision making of European Union (EU) law makers. Next to a series of scientific opinions evaluating specific adverse effects of PPPs for human health (like for instance carcinogenicity) the Panel also delivered scientific opinions on general principles in the field of human health risk assessment (like reference value setting) and is, in particular over the last years, very much engaged in development of methodologies to meet new challenges in regulatory risk assessments such as assessment of toxicity of pesticide metabolites and potential cumulative effects of pesticides to human health. Fate, behaviour and transformation of pesticides after their application and consequent release to the environment are a major aspect of pesticide risk assessment. The PPR Panel has achieved major accomplishments by delivering guidance and scientific opinions on degradation in soil, exposure of soil organisms and assessment of environmental risks by use of pesticides in greenhouses or grown under cover. A series of scientific opinions have been delivered also in the field of environmental risk assessment of pesticides. Scientific output covered specific issues arising in the peer review of specific active substances, revision of data requirements, development of risk assessment methodologies and the development of guidance documents. A major milestone of the PPR Panel was the development of the methodological framework for deriving specific protection goals for environmental risk assessment of pesticides in view of the future dialogue between risk managers and risk assessors during the next steps of the revision of the ecotoxicology guidance documents.