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Keyword 3 - Pesticide residues

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Background

Pesticides are used to protect crops before and after harvest from infestation by pests and plant diseases. A possible consequence of their use is the presence of pesticide residues in the treated products. These residues should not be present in food or feed at levels presenting an unacceptable risk to humans and are not allowed to exceed at least the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs)  set by the European Commission.
Driven by climate changes, pest development rates and/or host-plant susceptibility to pests, can be altered. It is expected that changes in the climate (warming of the earth atmosphere, increased rain fall, extreme drought,...) and the accompanying emerging diseases and influence on pesticide behaviour (e.g. increased precipitation, faster degradation due to higher temperature, loss due to wash off by rainfall, decreased activity under dry conditions,...) will increase the use (and costs) of pesticides for certain (new) crops. This was documented for Brazil where excessive rains in 2004 favoured the development of soybean rust leading to an increased use of fungicides to control the disease. Climate related changes in ecological conditions may all together increase also the misuse or abuse of pesticides usage.

Veg-i-Trade approach

Farmers, traders (exporters) and importers have a shared responsibility for the safety of their food products. This includes at least compliance with MRLs for the pesticides.
Veg-i-Trade will study the impact of globalisation and climate change on the levels and spectra of pesticide residues on fresh produce.
Especially the following factors will be taken into consideration: changes in cropping systems, changes in occurrence of pests and diseases and changes in land use and consumption due to climate change. The impact of climate change on the pesticide residue levels in fresh produce will be evaluated by using representative scenarios for the estimation of the pesticide use under different climatic conditions. Different dosage and frequency of application are expected. The fate of pesticide deposits on crops will be influenced by different temperature and rainfall conditions. New pests and diseases might have to be treated in another way resulting in new/other pesticide residues. By a probabilistic approach in the Veg-i-Trade project, the impact of the adapted pesticide use on the pesticide residue on the crop and the related risk for consumer exposure due to climate change will be assessed.