Photo: Hilvert Huizing
THE NETHERLANDS – Adjustments are needed in the authorization requirements with which plant protection products are assessed and the guidelines that apply to them. This is to better demonstrate possible health effects of these drugs. The RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment advises this after research commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
In the Netherlands, as in the rest of Europe, the question is whether certain substances in plant protection products can be harmful to our nervous system. These agents protect plants against organisms that can make plants sick. They are extensively tested to ensure that they are safe for humans, animals and the environment.
There is some evidence that people who have been exposed to pesticides for a long time, such as growers, are more likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The question is whether the current method of testing can demonstrate a possible effect of contracting a disease such as Parkinson’s.
Some of the information is missing
Research by the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment shows that with the current admission requirements, some of the information needed to demonstrate such an effect is missing. Current tests cannot make it clear whether a substance can cause small changes in the brain that can lead to disorders such as Parkinson’s. RIVM recommends describing more clearly in the admission requirements and test guidelines which effects must be investigated and which methods are required for this.
Research in Europe into risks of plant protection products
In Europe, various bodies are conducting research into the risks of plant protection products on the nervous system. RIVM recommends that all this knowledge about these effects be bundled through a working group. This can provide better knowledge about these effects.