I  U  P  A  C

News & Notices

Organizations & People

Standing Committees







Links of Interest

Search the Site

Home Page



Current Project

Chemistry and the Environment Division (VI)


Number: 2006-015-3-600

Title: Evaluation of food and feed safety implications of (altered) residues of pesticides applied on transgenic (GM) crops

Task Group
G.A. Kleter

Members: Irene B. de Alleluia, Kevin Bodnaruk, Elizabeth Carazo, Caroline A Harris, Arata Katayama, Baruch Rubin, Yehuda Shevah, Gerry R. Stephenson, Carmen Tiu, and John Unsworth

The primary objectives of this project are:

  1. Update of past and future trends in GM Crops Production
  2. Definition/determination of the characteristics of specific agrochemical residues
  3. Evaluation of the health impact of (altered) agrochemical residues in edible crops, and
  4. Assessment of regulatory measures and food and feed safety requirements

The world wide area cultivated with GM crops has increased continuously over the last ten years, amounting to 90 million hectares in 2005, which, by comparison, equal the total areas of California, Nevada, and Utah. Most of these crops are grown in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Australia, South Africa, and India.

These crops usually have been modified with either or both of two traits, i.e. herbicide resistance and insect resistance. While these traits are of agronomic and environmental importance, some experimental crops also possess traits geared towards consumer needs (e.g. high protein contents), which may in some cases also be combined with other agronomic traits. Moreover, crops with agronomic traits may find new applications, such as in the control of parasitic weeds that are sensitive towards herbicides applied to herbicide-resistant crops or insect-resistant crops with lowered mycotoxin contaminations caused by less insect infestation and less concomitant mould infection.

Herbicide and insect resistance traits are likely to influence the agrochemicals that are used on the crops with respect to quantities and nature of the chemicals, as well as the timing of applications. Subsequently, such changes may influence the nature and levels of residues present in the crops used for human and animal consumption. In addition, a number of pesticides have recently become generic, including broad-spectrum herbicides applied to GM crops, which may be offered in different formulations than the originally approved proprietary product. This may also have implications for the resultant residues levels in crops to which these pesticides are applied.

Another issue is the parallel usage of the same herbicides as weed control agents on GM crops and as crop desiccants (or defoliants) on conventional crops, i.e. potentially increasing both environmental and consumer exposure. Further as these herbicides can no longer be used as desiccant on GM crops, the further use of alternative chemicals as desiccants or defoliants is necessitated. In addition, the GM crops themselves may contain newly introduced transgenic products with pesticidal properties, such as "plant-incorporated protectants," as regulated by the US EPA. These products may substitute for other pesticides and may have food safety considerations of their own.

In addition, the changed use patterns may affect the levels at which MRLs for residues of the pertinent pesticides in the GM crop commodities will be set. This raises the possibility of MRL disparities acting as irritants to trans-national trade in these commodities.

The team is also involved in another IUPAC project on the environmental impact of altered agrochemical use on GM crops
> see project # 2001-024-2-600

The project will provide a greater attention to these global trends and especially on the MRLs to be set for residues of the pertinent pesticides applied on GM crops and commodities destined for the international trade. Accordingly, the project is to update the information gathered during the previous project, and to expand on the levels of residues of agrochemicals in GM crops, as well as the estimated exposure of humans and animals to these residues, and the MRLs to be set for the pertinent pesticides in these crops, touching on the issues of socio-economic importance, including international harmonization of regulatory thresholds and consumer concerns. In a broader sense, these data will be considered with regard to potential risks and benefits of GM crops compared to conventional crops.



Last update: 18 April 2007


<project announcement published in Chem. Int. Jul/Aug 2007, p. 24>

If you want to update this information, contact us by e-mail
Do not forget to include the Project Number,
your name and relation with that project

Page last modified 26 July 2007.
Copyright ©1997-2007 International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Questions or comments about IUPAC, please contact, the Secretariat.
Questions regarding the website, please contact web manager.