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Scientific conference on the use of epidemiological findings in regulatory pesticide risk assessment

More than 65 people  attended the EFSA scientific conference on the “Use of Epidemiological findings in Regulatory Pesticide Risk Assessment” on November 21st 2017. The conference was the result of an EFSA project intended to set the ground for the use of epidemiological data in the risk assessment of pesticide, as requested by Regulation (EC) 1107/2009.

Speakers and participants from European and non-European countries discussed the two opinions developed by EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR) and future scenarios where the application of modern methodologies in toxicology, exposure and epidemiology could support a mechanistic shift to the integration of these three disciplines. These scenarios would include the identification of risk factors involved in complex diseases.

The risk assessment of pesticides  is a complex task: regulatory toxicity tests do not necessarily address adverse effects suggested by human epidemiological investigations, which in turn may be not focused or sensitive enough to detect significant harmful effects.

  • EFSA is therefore proposing the use of the Adverse Outcome Pathway conceptual framework  to provide the mechanistic basis for a biological plausible link between a molecular initiating event and an adverse outcome from epidemiological studies.
  • EFSA is also proposing an initial framework for the evaluation and integration of epidemiological observations in pesticides risk assessment.
  • The discussions focused on current gaps in the proposed approach; in particular, the complexity of performing an adequate exposure assessment was debated.
  • A need for guidance to facilitate the risk assessment process was discussed with a consensus that a multidisciplinary approach is needed.



Programme and presentations

21 November 2017, NH Hotel in Parma, Italy



Opening remarks
Jose Tarazona, EFSA

1st session - Chair: Jose Tarazona, EFSA


Introduction to the “EFSA Epidemiology project”
Federica Crivellente, EFSA - Presentation


Scientific Opinion on the investigation into experimental toxicological properties of plant protection products having a potential link to Parkinson’s disease and childhood leukaemia
Susanne Hougaard Bennekou, Danish EPA, EFSA PPR Panel - Presentation


Applicability of the AOP for assessing causality of observations in epidemiological studies
Bette Meek, University of Ottawa, Canada - Presentation


Scientific Opinion of the PPR Panel on the follow-up of the findings of the External Scientific Report “Literature review of epidemiological studies linking exposure to pesticides and health effects”
Antonio Hernandez Jerez, University of Granada, EFSA PPR Panel - Presentation


The US EPA’s approach to Pesticide Epidemiology: similarities and differences with the EFSA proposal
David Miller, US-EPA - Presentation


Integrating epidemiological data in hazard identification
Dana Loomis, IARC


The AOP conceptual framework as a tool to support biological plausibility of epidemiological studies. Practical example: inhibition of the mitochondrial complex I of nigrostriatal neurons leading to Parkinson motor deficits.
Karin Angeli, ANSES - Presentation


Coffee break

2nd session - Chair: Christine Müller-Graf, BfR


The Agricultural Health Study (AHS)
Laura Beane Freeman, US National Cancer Institute


Exposure data in environmental epidemiology: limitations and quality assessments
Judy Lakind, LaKind Associates - Presentation


Pesticide exposure assessment in epidemiological studies. Current issues and future perspective
Laura Beane Freeman, US National Cancer Institute


Contribution of vigilance data to the risk assessment of pesticides
Marie-Odile Rambourg, ANSES - Presentation


Critical review of EFSA proposal and ways to implement the use of epidemiology in pesticide risk assessment
Manolis Kogevinas, ISGlobal, Barcelona, President International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) - Presentation



Afternoon session - Chair:Jose Tarazona, EFSA


Perspectives on environmental epidemiology
Carol Burns, ECPA - Presentation


Considerations on the approach proposed by EFSA
Martin Dermine, PAN Europe - Presentation


Open discussion


Concluding remarks
Laura Fabrizi, DG Santé


End of the Scientific Conference