Viewpoint: Pesticide regulations should assess societal context, not just safety

Apart from the inherent scientific complexity, the glyphosate case illustrates a fundamental societal issue. The mere fact that the European Citizens’ Initiative attracted so many adherents is indicative of a wide societal aversion to the massive increase in the production of chemicals and their use in pesticide-based agricultural mass production. Public concern is not only limited to glyphosate but also covers other chemicals such as neonicotinoids, endocrine-disrupting compounds, and food additives.

Presently there is no societal assessment in pesticide registration. Recently, a promising framework for the combination of cost-benefit analyses with factors such as risk perception, uncertainty, and trust in regulatory decision-making on toxic substances in food, including pesticides, has been proposed. We argue that including such a framework in pesticide authorization would be an appropriate way to take factors such as citizens’ initiatives, societal attitudes toward agricultural chemicals, and economic benefits of chemical pest and weed control into account.

Related article:  California: Valley farmers fear 'modified' wording in Prop. 37

It is time for a new scheme for pesticide evaluation in which regulatory decision-making takes into account not only the technical evidence on safety but also the societal context in which decisions are made.

Read full, original post: Decision-making in a storm of discontent

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