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Pesticides

Growing demand for food has forced producers to maintain the quality of their livestock and crops in the most efficient way. This can involve the use of pesticides. Using these products on crops risks exposing consumers to harmful chemical materials through residues that remain as the animal is reared or as the crop is processed. Setting limits on the maximum levels of these residues ensures that the food is safe to eat.

 

The role of Codex in Pesticides

To protect consumer health, most countries have maximum legal limits for pesticide residues in foods. Trade difficulties can arise when limits differ between countries.

The Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) is responsible for establishing Codex Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticide residues in specific food items or in groups of food or feed that move in international trade. 

Before a Codex MRL can be established human health risk assessments must be conducted to ensure the food supply is safe. It is the responsibility of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) to review the appropriate toxicology and data obtained mainly from supervised trials, that reflect approved pesticide use in accordance with "good agricultural practice." JMPR conducts dietary risk assessments and recommends specific MRLs to the Codex Committee.

For a chemical or commodity to be considered for review by the JMPR it must first be nominated by a Member Country to the CCPR Electronic Working Group on Priorities.

Related Codex Texts

Reference Title Committee Last modified
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CAC/GL 41-1993Portion of Commodities to which Maximum Residues Limits Apply and which is AnalyzedCCPR2010
CAC/GL 56-2005Guidelines on the Use of Mass Spectrometry (MS) for Identification, Confirmation and Quantitative Determination of ResiduesCCPR2005
CAC/GL 33-1999Recommended Methods of Sampling for the Determination of Pesticide Residues for Compliance with MRLsCCPR1999
CAC/GL 40-1993Guidelines on Good Laboratory Practice in Pesticide Residue AnalysisCCPR2010
CAC/GL 84-2012Principles and Guidance on the Selection of Representative Commodities for the Extrapolation of Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides to Commodity GroupsCCPR2017
CAC/GL 90-2017Guidelines on Performance Criteria for Methods of Analysis for the Determination of Pesticide Residues in Food and FeedCCPR2017

News

Pesticide experts meet to support Codex work

The FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) is currently underway at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin, Germany. Dr Roland Solecki, Head of the Department of Pesticides Safety of the Federal Institute hosting the event, highlighted the importance of JMPR’s work in supporting the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) with scientific advice. He also noted its valuable contribution to enhancing collaboration between national and international organizations to assess the risk of pesticide residues in foods. This is [...]
21 September 2018

Pesticide Residues 50th session in Haikou China

Experts gather in Haikou, China to establish maximum limits for pesticide residues in food and feed. The 50th session of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues began on Monday 9 April in Haikou, China and concludes Friday. Since 1966 the committee has established over 5000 Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticide residues covering 303 pesticides. Pesticides are used to protect crops against insects, weeds, fungi and other pests. Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans and can have both acute and chronic health [...]
10 April 2018

Key Facts

  • Codex sets Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides in food and feed crops to provide standards for food safety and foster international trade. FAO and WHO also develop Pesticide Specifications to set standards for pesticide quality and protect consumers and the environment from the use of substandard products.
  • Codex has established over 4300 MRLs covering nearly 200 pesticides.
  • FAO promotes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as the preferred approach to pest management.
  • FAO and WHO encourage the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

Pesticide legislation & labelling

Harry Van der Wulp explains how the guidelines on pesticide legislation have been updated to emphasize that pesticide management stretches beyond agriculture and also involves ministries of health and environment.

Resources

The Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)

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