Pesticide ‘cocktail’ exposure needs more research

Exposure to a mix of pesticides in foods is not likely to damage your health, says a new report, although pesticide regulations should be changed to include the possibility of combined exposure of a ‘cocktail’ of pesticides through food and other routes.

The latest report from the Food Standards Agency’s Committee on Toxicity says the ‘cocktail’ effect of pesticides is not likely to be harmful to children or pregnant mothers. But the Committee warns there is only a limited body of evidence to support this conclusion, and that chemical interactions can sometimes be difficult to predict.

In a 20-month review of scientific data, the Committee’s working group found only a very small risk to human health from exposure to pesticides and veterinary products in food. Nevertheless, the report recommends that regulatory guidelines should be changed to consider all routes of exposure, rather than simply through food. Toxicology and risk studies should assess the potential combined exposure, possibly using direct studies of the toxic action of pesticide cocktails.

The Agency will shortly be publishing an Action Plan for carrying out the Committee’s recommendations. A research programme is also being set-up, based on the report’s suggestions that biomarkers should be used as indicators of population exposure and body burdens. The report calls for more investigation and monitoring of possible human responses to pesticide mixtures.

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