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Agricultural Chemicals: Multiple Residues

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they propose to undertake or commission research into the effects of multiple residues of agricultural chemicals in the human body; and, if not, why not. [HL3281]

The Government are not currently funding any experimental research into the effects of multiple residues of agricultural chemicals in the human body and do not presently have proposals to commission such research.The UK regulatory authorities responsible for the approval of pesticides make use of estimates of the dietary intake of pesticides from food to assess and manage any potential risk to consumers. The possibility that synergistic effects might arise from multiple exposures to different pesticides was looked at in the early 1990s when the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) considered a study on the possible interactions between 400 active ingredients of pesticides. The committee concluded that such interactions were at worst additive and has not recommended a further review of this subject.Data on residues of pesticides in foods are taken from Government monitoring programmes, including analysis of total diet samples and individual domestic and imported food and feeding stuffs. A number of dietary surveys are used to estimate intakes of pesticide residues for the total diet using the UK consumer model. There is currently no evidence available to us to suggest that the cumulative intake of pesticides exceeds recognised safety limits.

If interactions between a particular pesticide and other compounds are suspected when its approval is considered, that approval will not be granted (or maintained if the pesticide is under review) unless further data are submitted which remove that suspicion.

Government funded research has identified that the variability of residues of some pesticides in some commodities has the potential to erode safety standards. This has resulted in regulatory and advisory action already taken in the UK. The implications of these findings for human risk assessment will be the subject of an international conference in December 1998, organised by the Pesticides Safety Directorate.