Description: New analytical tools are needed to monitor trends in pesticide exposure and risks through the human diet. Such tools and new measures of risk levels are clearly essential in assessing the impact of H.R. 1627, "The Food Quality Act of 1996," or FQPA. Equally important, the same sort of new tools and analytical effort are needed to monitor the combined impacts of reregistration, the registration of reduced risk biopesticides and progress toward biointensive IPM. Several pesticide risk ranking systems and measures have been developed and are profiled in (the upcoming topic) Measuring IPM Adoption and Pesticide Risks. In PMAC, we developed some simple pesticide toxicity and risk indices that can be used as a point of departure in developing DERI and related risk indices addressing environmental impacts.
Technical details of the DERI are yet to be worked out, but the basic parameters that should be used in constructing such an index will be an active ingredient's acute and chronic mammalian toxicity (see Chapter 3 in PMAC), tolerance levels and pounds applied by crop use.
For purposes of monitoring the impact of the FQPA, a DERI baseline should be calculated reflecting pesticide use and tolerances on the books during 1992-1995. The same methods could also be applied to pesticide use statistics and tolerance levels back to 1971, although such a retrospective study would be a major undertaking. While a big job, it would provide a much-needed, science-based assessment of trends in pesticide risks in the diet. With additional work, the risk indices could be extended to environmental and ecological risks impacts on water resources, ecotoxicity, and impacts on beneficials and farming systems. The data reported in PMAC show what can be accomplished, but more refined analyses and much more data are needed. We welcome suggestions and hope others will begin to work on the development of new methods and databases.
Anyone with comparable work underway, or with suggestions for the structure of the index, or indices; sources of data; or willing to help with the analytical work needed to calculate it, please be in touch at email@example.com . We will post all substantive contributions.
Based on my discussions with other analysts working on pesticide risk ranking schemes, it seems likely that the same database could be used to calculate several different risk indices. Just like multiple Ames tests in different tissues and species are considered desirable to detect the potential of a pesticide to pose mutagenic risks, there is also need for multiple risk indices and ranking schemes, each designed to assess different categories and combinations of risks, at different levels of aggregation (i.e., field level, the farm, within a watershed, or a county, state or nation). Once the underlying database on pesticide properties and use is compiled, multiple indices and schemes can be applied and calculated over time, often with little additional work. A systematic assessment of the results from a set of measures and ranking systems will eventually lead to a set of "Leading Indicators of Pesticide Risks."
Toward these ends, we will identify and post here a list of pesticide-crop combinations that have been identified by others as in jeopardy because of reregistration and/or FQPA implementation. We will monitor what happens to these uses. E-mail suggestions for additions are welcomed! Please include electronic sources of information when possible.