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Potential for Additional Ecological Realism in Pesticide Risk Assessments for Spring Seed Treatments?

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Pesticides intended for agricultural use in Europe are subject to environmental risk assessment under EC Regulation 1107/2009. This includes an evaluation of the potential toxicity to wild birds and mammals under a tiered risk assessment system. Murfitt summarised the history of the risk assessment process for birds and mammals and provided a discussion of key elements. These include the difficulties involved in long term (reproductive) risk assessments, which are typically conducted at the individual bird level, whereas the focus of concern is generally accepted to be population level effects. Long term assessments for seed treatments may be particularly challenging, due to the direct loading of the pesticide onto the seed and potential attractiveness of seed as food for wildlife. Compound specific decay rates on treated seed, consideration of dietary information and proportion of time spent foraging in the treated area for a representative bird species may be included in higher tier assessments to refine default assumptions. Nonetheless, the assessment may still indicate the potential for concern at the individual level. This is particularly so for spring drilled treated seed, where exposure of breeding birds is considered more likely than for autumn drilled crops. This article explores the potential to assess the exposure of birds to spring seed treatments at the population rather than individual level, thereby adding ecological realism to long term risk assessments.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-12-01

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