As there is a current focus on developing a guidance document for Biocides’ risk to arthropod pollinators (see Call to ECHA stakeholder organisations for nominating stakeholder experts to ECHA’s ad hoc stakeholder consultation group on pollinators guidance), there is potential to progress on the design of Specific Protection Goals (SPG), a topic initiated during the 2015 ECHA soil workshop.
Understandably, there is an intention to take into account the current European Food Safety Authority Guidance Document on the risk assessment of Plant Protection Products on bees (EFSA, 2013) and an expectation that ECHA may be able to draw on the existing EFSA framework.
However, the design of the EFSA guidance was enabled by the prior agreement on SPG, in consultation with the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. Their approach followed the methodology of defining Specific Protection Goals as outlined in the Scientific Opinion of EFSA’s PPR Panel, using the ecosystem services approach (see Scientific Opinion on the development of specific protection goal options for environmental risk assessment of pesticides, in particular in relation to the revision of the Guidance Documents on Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecotoxicology (SANCO/3268/2001 and SANCO/10329/2002), 2010).
PPP and Biocides differ greatly in their purpose and location of use. Though PPP’s primary function may be to support food production in an agricultural landscape, Biocides support a wider range of industries in varied urban and rural locations. Depending on the product type, this may include food production but also public health and a variety of services providing social and economic benefits. This divergence in the land uses concerned would result in altered conclusions as to the ecosystem services to protect, and thus the SPG options.
Figure 1: The tiered approach used in a risk assessment framework and its relationship to problem formulation, protection goals, and risk management in the process of developing specific protection goals and developing risk assessment guidance. Please note that this figure focuses on the interaction between risk assessment and risk management as defined in Section 1 [of EFSA 2010]. However, the involvement of stakeholders is also needed in the definition of protection goals. (Source: EFSA 2010)
As the EFSA 2010 document highlighted (see Figure 1), SPG should be defined during discussions among risk managers and risk assessors, ahead of designing a risk assessment framework. EFSA’s effort can be taken as an example but cannot replace a use-based, Biocides-focussed effort to define SPG - and, with the variety in biocidal products, this represents substantial work ahead.
At SETAC 2020, CEA presented a poster illustrating this topic by pointing out three essential Biocidal products where the lack of SPG resulted in difficulties to efficiently characterise potential impacts and benefits, causing a real brake on investment and progress.
To find out more about this, please download our poster: “The argument for Specific Protection Goals in Biocidal Products risk assessments – case studies”. For further information, please contact Fabienne.Ericher@cea-res.co.uk.
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