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 Pesticides

The use of pesticides to protect crops before and after harvest and during storage and in animal husbandry can lead to great improvements in human and animal nutrition and in preventive medicine provided that their use is properly controlled. Such control must be exercised throughout the whole cycle of the production of a pesticide, its use and disposal, and particularly so before it is authorised for marketing.

General guidelines are used to advise on pesticide registration. Most countries, whether by statutory or voluntary means, regulate the sale and supply of pesticides. However, they tend to differ in the extent and nature of the information to be supplied by manufacturers on the effect and safe use of the products they have registered.

The booklet "Pesticides", the seventh edition of which was published in 1992, gives guidance to authorities responsible for registration as well as to manufacturers on the basic information required for a pesticide such as toxicity, residue, environment, wild-life and efficacy data. It includes a special chapter on tests to be carried out to evaluate the efficacy of pesticides.

Special measures to ensure safe and correct use of pesticides by the private user have been defined in recommendations on the domestic use of pesticides. Furthermore, guidelines for the evaluation of pesticides used for the control of public hygiene pests (eg. rodents and flying and crawling insects) were published in 1994. They provide guidance on the types of risk evaluation recommended for specific categories of products in relation to their intended use, the information required for the assessment, test protocols, acceptance criteria and information regarding labelling of products.

A resolution on antifoulants was adopted in 1993 and guidelines for the evaluation of antifouling paints were published in 1994. The content and use of antifouling paints, which are designed to reduce the growth of "fouling" organisms on underwater structures (eg. hulls of ships), require careful monitoring due to their possible detrimental effects on non-target aquatic organisms. A follow-up report on risk assessment of antifoulants was published in 1996 which suggests how the risk assessment of antifoulants could be carried out to regulate the handling of these products in the different member States based on the Swedish and Dutch experiences and includes an emission model of antifoulants.

A report on contamination and protection of ground water from pesticides was published in 1993. It describes the situation and policy in Partial Agreement member countries regarding ground water and agricultural pesticides, and gives guidance for the protection of ground water and drinking water from pesticides. Specific guidelines for the protection of ground water from pesticide residues were published in 1995. Furthermore, reports on pesticide residues in surface waters in Northern Europe, Germany and the Netherlands, and on volatilisation and deposition of plant protection products were also published in 1995.

In 1990 the Council of Europe and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) set up a joint Council of Europe/EPPO panel of experts to elaborate decision-making schemes for the environmental risk assessment of plant protection products.

This assessment is of vital importance. A team of more than 150 experts worked to produce a framework on which to develop risk assessment procedures for the various areas of environmental concern.

The Joint Panel has developed assessment schemes for use by chemical manufacturers and regulatory authorities, that aim to:

guide assessors on the questions to be addressed, and the data that may
need to be requested from registrants;

provide information on the test methods and approaches that are suitable in
each case;

indicate how the data should be interpreted in a consistent manner, involving expert judgement where appropriate;

produce a reliable assessment of environmental risk that is suitable to aid risk management.

A joint publication on the decision-making schemes is under preparation.

A workshop on stored product protection and post-harvest treatment of plant products was held in 1995. Insecticides, together with fumigants, are today the principal agents used in the protection of crops against insects. Much interest was focused on new developments in alternative strategies and approaches to prevent insect infestation or to control it.

The proceedings of the workshop were published in 1996.

In 1996 the Committee of Ministers adopted the following resolutions:

Resolution AP (96) 2 on preservative products for uses other than on wood;

Resolution AP (96) 3 on disinfectants.

Since 1998 relevant activities concerning pesticides and food safety have been carried out by the Committee of experts on nutrition, food safety and consumer health.