German study sounds alarm over pesticide risks

Survey of 18 pesticides finds insufficient data to assess risks to environment, health properly

German and EU authorities do not have enough data to properly assess risks of commonly used pesticides, according to a study by scientists at the German University of Oldenburg. Publicised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Germany, the study examines data available for 18 pesticides on the market in Germany - 16 of them commercially registered for agricultural use, the other two used in specialist applications. According to WWF campaigner Ulf Jacob, the study concludes that authorities lack information on the pattern and intensity of use of each pesticide in practice. This is crucial to understanding their actual environmental and health impacts, Mr Jacob said. A further conclusion is that around half of the pesticides studied are said to be classified as potential carcinogens in other countries but not under German law. Mr Jacob said that while such risks are being assessed under an EU programme to investigate pesticides already on the market, this is making painfully slow progress. Finally, the study says authorities are not taking into account the effect of exposures to mixtures of pesticides. The authors complain that independent investigation of pesticide risks is difficult because authorities and companies are often slow or reluctant to make data available.

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