July 22, 1993


NEWS RELEASE, Ames, Iowa, July 22, 1993

The five members of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) task force who reviewed the long awaited report published by the National Research Council (NRC) on June 28, 1993 agree that the report is a thorough, balanced, and objective summary of available information on the subject. The NRC report has called for improvements in the evaluation and regulation of pesticide risks in infants' and children's foods. The following comments on the NRC report are among those provided by the CAST reviewers in their individual review articles:

·         The CAST reviewers concur with the NRC Committee conclusion that the current pesticide regulation process needs to be changed to ensure that children and infants are adequately protected and to improve the process of quantifying risk. The reviewers suggest that each of the committee's recommendations be evaluated with specific consideration of its regulatory utility.

·         Improvements in food consumption and residue data for children's foods as well as improved methods for calculating risk are needed. New tests for determining the effects of pesticides on the young and improvements in risk assessment methodology are warranted.

·         CAST reviewers agree that present risk analysis from pesticide residues in food is based largely on the adult population. Infants and children are not"little adults." To establish a more credible risk assessment for infants and children, the committee suggests the establishment of a standard model to allow interpretation of toxicology studies in immature animals.

·         Evidence is presented in the CAST review that the NRC recommendation to establish a better food consumption database for infants and children in yearly intervals through year five is questionable. The current databases show little, if any, change in feeding patterns after the age of one year. Because diet survey data collection is likely to be among the most expensive of the recommendations, the needs and benefits must be evaluated.

·         The NRC report recommends that the 10-fold safety factor covering fetal effects be extended to apply when postnatal development toxicity is indicated. The reviewers believe this is reasonable.

·         Sampling methods used in market basket surveys should be reviewed. A CAST reviewer states that sampling for pesticide contamination of processed foods should be different from raw agricultural commodities and unprocessed foods.

·         Suggestions are included in the CAST review for implementation of the NRC Committee recommendations. The process should include a systematic and broad-based review of each recommendation, encompass the broadest possible range of approaches, and quantitatively evaluate potential results of each proposed change.

Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children: Scientists' Review, Special Publication No. 17, 20 pages, is available for $5.00 from CAST, 4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50014-3447, (515) 292-2125. CAST is a nonprofit consortium comprised of 30 member scientific societies in food and agricultural science and many individual, student, company, nonprofit, and associate society members.