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Opinion: How industry tries to water down risk assessment of pesticide mixtures in everyday food




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pesticide-sprayA Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe report claims to have revealed a well planned and orchestrated attempt of industry to undermine policies meant to evaluate the toxicity of chemicals mixtures (cumulative risk assessment, CRA). This is done by putting industry-linked experts in crucial positions in expert panels of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. A massive delay in policy implementation is the result. Eight years after the EU mandated such risk assessments for pesticide residues in food, EFSA still fails to carry them out, leaving consumers and citizens unprotected against the harms of mixtures of pesticides in food.

Every day people are exposed to dozens of pesticide residues in food, in fruit and vegetables, and to hundreds of other chemicals during their lifetime. Food standards however are based on a single exposure, which is unrealistic. Consequently these standards do not protect humans against the potential health damage of mixtures especially over an extended period of time. When politicians finally agreed to change the food standards, industry developed their views on CRA and set out to infiltrate government bodies that would implement the policy on CRA.

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