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Regulatory Toxicology: International conference discussed new processes for analysing active substances in pesticides

At an international Akademie Fresenius conference held in Mainz on 2 and 3 December, representatives from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) discussed current questions arising from the regulation of active substances in pesticides with representatives from the national institutes and industry.

The participants and speakers took a look at new examination techniques and the latest studies. For example, EFSA representatives reported on how the approach to addressing epidemiological studies to assess pesticide safety is developing. Further topics on the agenda: The cumulative assessment of active substances, possible applications for impurity profiles and the benefits of in silico methods in predicting the genotoxicity of pesticides.

The discussions on risk assessment that took place between the scientists, the authorities and the plant protection industry were focussed on finding a balance between being able to predict the effects  to humans as accurately as possible on the one hand and reducing the effort required to produce dossiers and carry out animal testing on the other.

Comparative metabolism studies: Results of the EFSA Workshop

Emanuela Testai of the Italian National Institute for Health presented the results of a scientific workshop carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2018 aimed at making better use of comparative in vitro metabolism studies in regulatory pesticide risk assessment. To date, no guidelines to this effect have been introduced. However, an EFSA working group will compile a guidance document to address this point. During the workshop, the discussions concentrated on the question of the extent of information to be collected and included in the study protocols. In addition, the workshop participants discussed how metabolism data could be used in a weight of evidence approach for endocrine mediated mechanisms of toxicity based on the ECHA-EFSA guidance on the identification of endocrine disruptors.

In silico methods: What can computer simulations achieve?

Many experts are hoping that the increased usage of so-called in silico techniques which simulate the effects of substances on the computer will lead to simpler processes and fewer experiments on animals. Experts rate these processes according to their applicability and the appropriateness of the results. Mark Cronin of Liverpool John Moores University expects these developments in computation toxicology to provide new opportunities to predict the effects of pesticides and their metabolites on humans. However, he also said that it would be difficult to predict definitively the probability of individual metabolites being obtained. He also said that the informative value of the different models varies in terms of performance and applicability. However, he also stated that these models were good to support approaches such as read-across with predicted metabolite profiles.

SciRAP: Online platform requires an exchange between academic research, chemicals regulation and policy

Anna Beronius from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden presented an online platform for evaluation of toxicity and ecotoxicity studies: SciRAP (Science in Risk Assessment and Policy) is designed to bridge the gap between academic research, chemicals regulation and policy. The webpage (http://www.scirap.org) provides criteria for the evaluation of reliability and relevance of studies. The reporting platform also provides guidelines intended as a tool for researchers in the design, performance, and reporting of studies. 

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