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FAO releases a report on food safety implications of environmental inhibitors


FAO has published a report called Food safety implications from the use of environmental inhibitors in agrifood systems which offers an overview of substances that are used to reduce methane emissions from livestock and limit the loss of nitrogen from farmlands and pastures. The report focuses on their possible food safety-related concerns and gives examples of legal frameworks regulating these compounds at national and regional level. It also highlights regulatory needs and steps to move forward.

This publication falls within the FAO Food Safety Foresight Programme that seeks to identify and monitor emerging food safety issues in rapidly evolving agrifood systems. “As a forward-looking approach, foresight facilitates preparedness for food safety risks that may arise from new practices and technologies in agrifood production,” said FAO Food Safety Officer Vittorio Fattori.

Foresight facilitates preparedness for food safety risks

The report looks at whether environmental inhibitors may help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and contrast demand for fertilizers by increasing crop yield and quality. “The intensification of food production in the coming years will likely increase the application of environmental inhibitors which are already available on the market and drive the development of new compounds. Identifying possible food safety implications of environmental inhibitors will ensure readiness to face challenges and capture the opportunities that this solution can bring in the future,” said Magdalena Niegowska, FAO Food Safety Specialist.

“Trade implications due to lack of international standards for environmental inhibitors have recently been addressed by Codex Alimentarius, in particular by the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) and the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food (CCRVDF), highlighting the importance of having globally accepted Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) which could be established on a case-by-case basis and within the established procedures as described in the risk analysis principles applied by these committees”, said Gracia Brisco, Codex Secretariat As regulatory limits for a range of environmental inhibitors are not available yet, international guidance on risk management provided by Codex Alimentarius for chemical residues that can occasionally be detected in food at low levels would be necessary for public health protection and trade facilitation.

“The transition towards resilient, sustainable and safe agrifood systems must cope with trade-offs between environmental, socioeconomic, food security and safety objectives. We hope that this publication will offer some viable options and recommendations to move forward in this context”, said Corinna Hawkes, Director of the FAO Food Systems and Food Safety Division and Codex Secretary ad interim.


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The publication Food safety implications from the use of environmental inhibitors in agrifood systems is available in English here:

For more information about the FAO food safety foresight programme, please visit: