The OECD Pesticide Assessment and Testing project works to harmonise the methods used by OECD countries to evaluate pesticide risks to health and the environment. This includes:
Developing test guidelines for the tests used to fulfil the pesticide registration data requirements
Harmonising exposure, hazard and risk assessment methods to interpret the test results and to assess a pesticide's risk
Harmonisation means that the methods used by OECD governments are largely similar though governments may retain some differences to account for national conditions and preferences.
Exposure, Hazard and Risk Assessment
OECD governments work together to develop and harmonise methods to evaluate test results and other information, and draw conclusions about hazards and risks which become the basis for decisions on pesticide registration and risk reduction. This work falls under two categories:
Using residue data: The OECD Zoning Project started in September 2000 to find a way for both OECD and non-OECD governments to make wider use of pesticide residue studies. Residue studies are not only part of the general registration process, but are also used by governments and by the international Codex Alimentarius Commission to set "maximum residue levels" for pesticide residues in food.
Run jointly by OECD and the Pesticide Group of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Zoning Project is trying to determine whether international pesticide residue test zones could be drawn that would enable governments to accept tests done in other countries. This would not only facilitate inter-government sharing of residue assessments, but would also reduce the number of tests needing to be done.
The project analysed the results of past residue studies to see whether they fall into patterns that could be used in drawing internal zones. Results are presented in Report of the OECD FAO Zoning Project, Series on Pesticides No. 19; ENV/JM/MONO(2003)4 .
The Zoning Project was directed by the Zoning Steering Group, composed of representatives of OECD governments, non-OECD governments that are members of the FAO, and the pesticide industry represented by CropLife International.
Residue testing: The OECD Pesticide Programme has initiated a project to develop: Guidance Documents on criteria for definition of the residue and on overview of residue chemistry studies; and Test Guidelines on plant metabolism, livestock metabolism, livestock feeding studies, confined rotational crop studies, residues storage stability studies, nature and magnitude of residues in processed commodities, and crop filed trials. These documents are available at: Publications on Pesticide Residues.
Risk assessments of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pesticides
Information used to determine the risks associated with exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) pesticides: A survey on persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic pesticides in OECD Member countries was conducted during 1999–2000. The report (and Annex 2 ) which presents the results of the survey, describes the information generally available to pesticide regulators that is relevant to risks associated with low-dose exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) pesticides and how this information is used. The survey was undertaken with a view to developing a harmonised OECD approach for assessing the risks associated with exposure to these low-level PBT pesticides in the environment.
Case Study on the Assessment of Persistency and Bioaccumulation in the Pesticide Registration Frameworks In OECD Countries: This report documents the results of case study conducted in 2003 to determine (and compare) how OECD Member countries identify persistent and bioaccumulating substances and use such information in their decision making process.
The OECD is currently developing a guidance document on harmonised environmental assessment for pesticides with persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic and long-range transport (PBT/LRT) characteristics.
Three sets of Guidance Notes on toxicity studies were developed by the Pesticides Programme for the purpose of assisting in the interpretation and transparent reporting of toxicological data on pesticides; they may also have some use as guidance on evaluating studies for different groups of chemicals (e.g. biocides and industrial chemicals). These are:
Test guidelines: These tell precisely how the different tests to determine pesticide properties, hazard and exposure should be performed. A guideline for a study of fish reproduction, for example, will indicate the number, age and species of fish to be tested; the conditions under which they are to be kept; the method for administering doses of the pesticide; the quantity and timing of the doses; the tissues and organs to be analysed; and so forth.
Guidelines for pesticide testing are developed within the larger Test Guidelines Programme of the OECD Environment, Health and Safety Programme. Approximately 100 guidelines for chemical testing have been published since the programme began in the early 1980s. Many of these apply to pesticides.
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