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Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further plans he has to investigate the chronic health effects of the pesticides triadimefon, metasystox, ioxynil and 2,4-D.

The safety position of all pesticides is kept under continuous review.Of the chemicals mentioned, a detailed review of ioscynil is currently in progress.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has regarding the health effects of the pesticides triadimefon, metasystox, ioxynil or 2,4-D in respect of (a) teratogenicity, (b) carcinogenicity and (c) mutagenicity.

Companies seeking clearance for these products under the pesticides safety precautions scheme (PSPS) have been required to provide all the medical and scientific data necessary for the purpose, including data on the three elements mentioned. Clearance was granted when Departments were satisfied that, when used as recommended, the products offered no risk to public health. Additional data have recently been received in relation to ioxynil, about which I will be writing to the hon. Member.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has, and what studies he has made or plans, of the heat breakdown products of pesticides that may occur in smoke derived from agricultural straw and stubble burning.

None. As part of the pre-market safety clearance for pesticides, due account is taken of problems that might arise from residues. Our advice is that the level of residues likely to be present in cereals straw during and after harvest-time would be most unlikely to result in any risk during subsequent straw and stubble burning.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in revising his Department's pesticide data requirements in order to reduce animal testing to the minimum and to replace the Draize procedure.

Revisions to the pesticides data requirements with regard to animal testing are nearing completion and will be published shortly. Under the proposed new procedure products containing components already known to be irritating to the eye will not be required to be tested undiluted; active ingredients and formulations which are severe skin irritants, or which are strongly acidic or alkaline, may be assumed to be eye irritants and thus will not have to be tested in concentrated form; there is also a strong recommendation not to test in the eye materials known to be corrosive to skin. Furthermore, where substances of unknown irritancy need to be tested, application should be made initially to one animal only, before proceeding to a further two animals, provided it is not shown to be strongly irritant in the first animal.Whilst these revisions should help reduce animal testing to a minimum, some in vivo testing will, I am advised, still be necessary. This is because, while in vitro methods for the assessment of severe eye irritation (as opposed to the in vivo Draize test) may be of value as preliminary screening methods for use with compounds or products for which the eye irritation potential is unknown, their ability to detect the relatively low level of eye irritation which may be caused by many pesticides has yet to be adequately demonstrated.