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INAPPROPRIATE ANXIETIES ABOUT CROP PROTECTION RESIDUES IN FOOD

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Crop Protection Products (CPPs) are a useful weapon in our fight against the pests, diseases and weeds that harm or destroy our food. To be effective CPPs need to exhibit some persistence. The consequence of this is that residues of the original material or its metabolites may remain on food giving a potential for consumer exposure.

The issue of CPP residues in food is an emotional subject and unfortunately is rarely debated rationally or supported by scientific facts. Media headlines like “Poison in our food” or “These days enough Pesticides (CPPs) are sprayed onto vegetables to turn you into one” are testimony to the high level of emotion that surrounds the subject of CPP residues in food. Recent surveys of consumers have indicated that more than 80 percent view CPP residues in food as a “serious hazard”. This significantly exceeds concerns over drugs, hormones in meat, nitrates in food, irradiated foods, food additives, or artificial colours.

CPPs are among the most highly regulated of all man-made chemicals, their testing and regulation being equivalent to that of pharmaceuticals. Why is it that the public perception and confidence in the safety associated with residues in food is so negative? The public experience with the food issues over E. Coli, salmonella, listeria, BSE, dioxins and recently the foot and mouth disease in the UK has not helped their belief in the safety of they consume. Rather this has led to the view that government scientists and the industry are “sparing” with the facts. Unsubstantiated scares in the past, such as that associated with use of Alar on apples, together with the more recent issue of organophosphates on carrots, have also fuelled consumers concerns on the dangers of treating crops with CPPs.

The benefits of CPPs use on crops needs to be better communicated to the consumer. The public needs to be made aware that the development and use of CPPs since the 1940s has had a beneficial impact. Today's consumer expects an affordable constant year-round supply of clean, fresh, healthy and, above all, safe food. It has been well recognised that CPPs not only play a major role in producing food quantity, but also contribute to high quality.

Manufacturers have to demonstrate a wide margin of safety to human health before approval of a CPP is granted by governments. Monitoring data from a large number of countries indicate that CPP residue levels in food are extremely low; thus providing even stronger evidence that our food is safe.

This paper deals briefly with the benefits and alternatives to CPPs use along with methodologies used for safety assessments, which ensure that the consumer is not exposed to any risk from man made CPP residues in food.
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Keywords: ACCEPTABLE DAILY INTAKE; BENEFITS; CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS; EXPOSURE; HAZARD; LONG AND SHORT TERM EXPOSURE; MAXIMUM RESIDUE LEVELS; RESIDUES; RISK; SAFETY LIMIT; TRADING STANDARDS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: A & N Consulting, 15 Westborough Road, Maidenhead, Berks, SL6 4AW, UK

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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