The EU's food agency has reviewed 50 pesticides for safety, part of a process that would establish what agricultural chemicals are allowed to be present as residues inproduce and by how much.
The process sets down for the first time set a comprehensive risk assessment of pesticides thatcan be used by the bloc's member states to assess whether the substances can continue to be used in the EU. Meanwhile,the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has already begun work on assessing another 137 pesticides,work which it expects to be completed by 2008.
The process should result in firm guidance for food safety managers, who must ensure theirsupplies do not come laden with residues over the limits set down by regulators.
The review of pesticides is a major undertaking that began in 1993 involving the risk assessment of several hundred chemicals used as plant protection products.
Because of the scale of the task, it was divided into four stages. The first stage of the peer review programme was carried out by the European Commission and covered 90substances. Decisions on those should be taken by the end of this year.
EFSA has now issued conclusions on the 50 substances included in the second stage of the peer review process, which was launched in2003.
In the coming six months the Commission and Member States now need to decide whether to include these substance in the 'positive list' of active substances authorised for use in plant protection products.
Once an active substance has been peer reviewed, Member States may authorise its use only if it has been included in the positive list.
The conclusions on all 50 active substances including background documents are available on the EFSA website at:http:/www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/praper/conclusions.html.