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codexalimentarius > Themes > Pesticides

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

News

CCPR52 / Committee on pesticide residues approves new MRLs to CAC44

The Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR)wrapped up its 52nd session advancing new Codex Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for spices, seeds, fruits, and other commodities to the 44th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC44). These limits for pesticide residues in food are established by Codex based on a risk assessment and limits for safe intake set by an FAO/WHO international expert scientific group named Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). Gracia Brisco, the Food Standards Officer in the Codex [...]
23 August 2021

CCPR52 / "A sound, open and reliable international system" – Prof QIAO chairs CCPR

As the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) continues virtually, we spoke to Xiongwu QIAO, Chairperson of CCPR. Professor QIAO is Counsellor of the Government of Province Shan, People’s Republic of China. Chairperson QIAO, thanks for your time. Let’s start with the million-dollar question. What are pesticides and how are they used?  Pesticide means any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling or controlling any pest including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of [...]
28 July 2021

Pesticide residues / Training in Chile strengthening expertise in the region

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans and especially for those who work or come into close contact with them. Yet pesticides also play a key role in food production; protecting or increasing yields and the number of times per year a crop can be grown on the same land. This is particularly important in countries that face food shortages. FAO and WHO are responsible for assessing the risks to humans of pesticides – both through direct exposure, and through residues in [...]
21 February 2020

Codex looks to harmonise regulation of biopesticides

Experts meeting in Macau, China 8 to 12 April 2019, will be discussing a proposal to provide an international reference guideline for biopesticides. The project would establish criteria to identify pesticides that generally pose fewer risks than conventional pesticides and are considered by many national regulators exempt from the need to set maximum residue limits. This Codex guideline would help countries such as Chile, which is leading the work, as they and many other countries base their regulations on the Codex [...]
06 April 2019

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)

WHO: food safety and chemical risks (more)