Results of joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)
Scientific experts with experience in pesticide risk assessment met in Geneva on 9–13 May to re-evaluate the risk posed to human health of consuming residues of glyphosate, diazinon and malathion in food. The JMPR last evaluated glyphosate, diazinon and malathion in 2011, 2006 and 2003, respectively.
In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate, malathion and diazinon as "probably carcinogenic to humans".
Scientific studies of the potential health effects of hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, can allow them to be classified as carcinogenic (can cause cancer), neurotoxic (can cause damage to the brain) or teratogenic (can cause damage to a fetus). Classification of hazard is the first step in an overall risk assessment of these substances, which also takes into account doses, exposure levels and how people are exposed, e.g. through ingestion, inhalation or injection.
In order to assess the health risks associated with pesticide residues in food, the JMPR in May 2016 took account of IARC's classification of glyphosate, malathion and diazinon and also reviewed the results of a large number of genotoxicity studies. The meeting concluded:
- Glyphosate, a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans exposed via the diet.
- Malathion, an insecticide used to control insects on agricultural crops and in stored commodities, is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans exposed via the diet.
- Diazinon, an insecticide, is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans exposed via the diet.