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Safe food requires responsible pest control

Consumers don’t just need enough food, and a sufficient diversity of foods, they need food that is safe to eat – meaning it needs to be free from infections, moulds, and fungi that can be fatal, and free from  dangerous chemicals.

To achieve this, we use pest control products to limit the fungi and lethal infections, as well as to increase the volume of food production, and we rigorously test the pest control chemicals to ensure they are safe, as laid out below.

However, to ensure safety, the right pesticides must be used, in the right quantities, and at the right. Every farmer needs to follow the application instructions precisely or hire a professional SSP to apply their pest control products.

We also provide training field days for farmers on the correct and safe way to use pest control to guarantee safe foods. Check our events, by clicking here, to see our upcoming training days.

Building plant science that’s safe for human health and the environment

At the heart of safety testing for a crop protection product is a set of tests and standards to ensure no dangerous chemicals are left on food or in the environment. This is one of the most stringent product approval processes in the world, taking an average 11 years from discovery to commercial use. It has five stages of testing.

How risks to human health are identified and prevented

When ensuring pest control products are safe, scientists use risk assessments. The Environmental Protection Agency in the USA provides an overview of the steps taken to ensure there are no health or environmental risks from pest control products here.

The human risk assessment assesses issues such as:

This is assessed in a four-step process:

Kenyan Risk Assessment training course

We provide a free training course on the detailed science of Kenya’s risk assessment practice and global risk assessment practice, including detail on the environmental risk assessments, with these training materials available here:

Making sure you can access the testing data

Pesticide safety data

CropLife International and its member companies have made a global commitment to enable more public access to safety data related to their pesticides. The initiative stems from the industry’s commitment to transparency, responsibility and sustainability.


To register a pesticide, regulatory authorities require dozens of complex tests and more than 150 safety studies following strict procedures and protocols.

The cost of bringing a new crop protection product to market has increased by 55 per cent since the turn of the century. Much of the increase in cost can be attributed to a rise in volume and complexity of environmental safety and toxicology data required by regulatory bodies to ensure products are safe and effective.

The generation of regulatory data continues even after product authorizations have been granted. This is due to requirements for the periodic review of authorizations, requests for post commercial monitoring data or additional data on product safety, and to changes in regulatory systems.


Guidelines on gathering and analyzing safety data have been set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international, intergovernmental organization.

The OECD has established Principles of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), a management system which ensures the uniformity, reproducibility and integrity of laboratory studies around the world.

These guidelines are adopted and written into national laws, where any transgressions can lead to criminal prosecution.

Apart from pesticides and GMOs, GLP is a practice used to assess the safety of a wide number of common chemical products including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food additives.


A lot of health and environmental safety information is already made public through various channels, such as the product label, product brochures or company websites and peer reviewed scientific literature. In addition, regulatory summaries are made available by government authorities.

In the EU, for example, the regulatory risk assessment and study summary for product applications is online with links to review reports and decisions. Further, the active substance registration reports containing the study summaries, risk assessment and summaries on scientific literature are published on the EFSA website.

There are similar portals in the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere, and more information around pesticides can be found in The Pesticide Manual.


The crop protection industry invests heavily in innovation to ensure safe and sustainable products are continuously being created and made available to farmers. Certain parts of the data submitted to approve new products is considered Confidential Business Information (CBI) – this ensures the incentive to innovate is protected. CBI might include details of the manufacturing process or the personal details of researchers and scientists.

Disclosing regulatory data which qualifies as CBI could significantly harm innovation by reducing competition and undermining the policy balance between the public’s interest in relevant health and environmental safety information, and competitive commercial interests achieved through the protection of regulatory data. The ultimate goal is to bring safe, effective and sustainable tools to farmers so they can grow a healthy crop.


CropLife International member companies are among the world’s leading developers of crop protection solutions which enable farmers to produce food for a growing world in a safe and environmentally sustainable way. While the product authorization process is the essential assurance to farmers and consumers that crop protection products meet the highest standards for safety, efficacy and quality, the effective transparency of safety data can further enhance public confidence in the process.