AGP - Extended News
 

Regional Training workshops on pesticide residue risk assessment and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) setting in Brazil and Ghana

In collaboration with the Foreign Agricultural Service, United States Department of Agriculture, AGPMC held two regional training workshops on pesticide residue risk assessment and standard setting in Brazil and Ghana. 

The workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in San Paulo, Brazil, from 16 to 20 May 2011. Twenty-one participants from twelve countries attended this training workshop. Participants came from Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. 

The training for the Africa region was held in Accra, Ghana, from 6 to 10 June 2011, and twenty-two participants attended it. Participants came from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

These regional training workshops were held in order to respond to the requests of developing countries to play a greater role in the process of establishing international standard and to strengthen the capabilities of scientists from these countries in residue risk assessment for the establishment of MRLs and in evaluation of residue dossier for pesticide registration.

Most of the participants of both workshops were from pesticide regulatory authorities. The trainees showed great interest in the training. They highly valued particularly the group exercises, which were extremely instructive and provided the opportunity for the trainees to see the complexities of pesticide residue evaluation. All the participants indicated that the workshop substantially expanded their views, improved their understanding of the complex subject, and they all believed that the knowledge and skills which they learned from the training will be helpful for their work  in the future.

As requested by the member countries, in particular developing countries, FAO has taken a series of activities to strengthen the capabilities of scientists from developing countries in the techniques of pesticide evaluation for the establishment of MRLs and to update their knowledge of the assessment of risks associated with dietary intake of pesticide residues. In 2010, FAO developed and published the FAO Training Manual on the Evaluation of pesticide residues for establishment of maximum residue levels and calculation of dietary intake. Further, in November 2010 the first international training workshop on the establishment of MRLs and residue risk assessment was held in Budapest, Hungary, from 8 to 12 November 2010. Fifteen trainees participated in the workshop, thirteen of them coming from developing countries. Following the two training workshops in Africa, Latin America/Central America, a regional training course for Asia will be held on 8-12 August in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pesticide problem solved in Paraguay

In Paraguay a fire that took place in a site owned by the Oficina Fiscalizadora de Algodón y Tabaco  (OFAT) in the city of Asunción in 2003 resulted in about 160 tonnes of damaged pesticides, contaminated soil and other contaminated materials being placed in hastily procured shipping containers where they have remained since. The site is close to the centre of Asunción, the capital of Paraguay and next to the site is a neighbourhood, a busy road and a river, so that health and environmental risks are extremely high.

The Government of Japan agreed to allow income generated from agricultural equipment and inputs donated by Japan and sold locally to be used for the disposal of the obsolete pesticides from OFAT Asunción. Under a Unilateral Trust Fund agreement from the Government of Paraguay to FAO, AGP formulated the contract specification for disposal of 200 tonnes of obsolete pesticides and contaminated materials from OFAT Asunción.

The contract was issued in April 2010, but many difficulties were faced in importing materials to Paraguay, primarily because of a drought that reduced the level of the River Paraguay and prevented cargo ships from coming up-river from Argentina. Overland transport was significantly slower.

Work started in early February 2011 with the training of local staff on how to work safely and effectively to repack obsolete pesticides in preparation for international shipment Because of the high temperatures and humidity, two teams of labourers from the Ministry of Agriculture and the local Fire Brigade were trained and worked in 30 minute shifts repacking pesticides. By early March all the obsolete pesticides in OFAT Asunción had been repacked into new containers ready for shipment to the UK for destruction. 

A great deal of media interest was shown in the project with the involvement of FAO Rome and the FAO Sub-regional Office for Latin America. Video footage and a photographic record of the operation was organized. In addition local and international press attended a ministerial briefing as well as a press conference in the field. There was significant coverage of the project nationally and regionally.

An additional problem faced in Paraguay is an accumulation of nearly 6,000 tonnes of cotton seed treated with a variety of pesticides (fungicides and insecticides) that had not been planted and have since become obsolete. The Government requested assistance from FAO in developing a solution for disposal of the seeds. Expertise from the University of Wageningen was mobilized and a field mission organized in February to review the situation and propose a technical solution.

The proposal made was to use an accelerated composting process by mixing a proportion of seeds with other available organic matter, manure and soil from areas where treated seeds had previously been buried. The seeds would be broken by mechanical means, and the compost piles would be constructed and maintained to optimize the composting process. The University of Paraguay in Asunción, together with the Pesticides and Seed Authority of Paraguay (SENAVE) will work together to implement the composting operation. A pilot will be run in the coming months to test various options and optimize the process, which will then lead to full scale operations to treat the full 6,000 tonnes of seeds.

 

Training workshop on the establishment of MRLs in Budapest

The first FAO Training Workshop on the establishment of Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) and risk assessment of pesticide residue took place in Budapest, Hungary, from 8 to 12 November 2010. Fifteen trainees participated in the workshop, thirteen of them coming from developing countries. The workshop was opened by the FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, Ms Guerrieri. The facilitators for the workshop were FAO Panel Members of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), Mr Arpad Ambrus from Hungary and Mr Denis Hamilton from Australia.

The objectives of this training workshop were to strengthen the capabilities of scientists from developing countries in the techniques of pesticide evaluation for the establishment of MRLs and to update their knowledge of the assessment of risks associated with dietary intake of pesticide residues.

The training workshop relied on the subject matter contained in the FAO training manual (Trial edition).  The course took the form of lectures, discussions and eight practical team exercises.

The participants fully recognized that the training was highly valued and important. The knowledge and skill which they learned from this training will be of great help to their work: at National level each country whose participant attended the training workshop will benefit from their participations, since all the trainees will now be active participants in the activities that involve international standards and the establishment of national MRL.

 

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