Dr. Annette Aldrich is currently a member of the Biocides and Plant Protection Products Section at Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), where she works as an ecotoxicological risk assessor for the authorization of plant protection products. Previously, she served as the deputy leader of the group ecotoxicology at Agroscope, the Swiss Federal Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Research. With twenty years of experience in the regulatory science of prospective environmental risk assessment (ERA), Annette has collaborated with EFSA since 2015 by participating in the working groups on amphibians and reptiles and on transition metals. Since 2018 she is a member of the EFSA Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR). In recent years, her focus has been the development of new approach methodologies that address gaps and advance the current ERA. Her collaboration with the European Partnership for ERA (PERA) and European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC) have played a major role in this respect. She is also part of the core group of the COST Action PERIAMAR to propose innovative strategies for implementing ERA schemes for amphibians and reptiles. In Switzerland, Annette has contributed to the development of the scientific framework for risk mitigation measures, especially for terrestrial amphibian stages in agricultural landscapes and she liaises with the retrospective risk assessment of surface water monitoring.
Environmental risk assessment of pesticides: transitioning to a systems-based approachSee more
22/06 - 14:00Visit the agenda
Title of talk
Why is there a need for a paradigm shift in the ERA of pesticides?
22/06 - 14:25
Abstract of talk
A paradigm shift is a major change in a process, implying that the current approach is no longer applicable. Why is this the case for ecological risk assessments (ERAs) of pesticides?
In the current dual EU approval process, active substances demonstrating safe use are approved at EU-level. Subsequently, products are authorised for single use (one crop and one pest) at Member-State-level, where mitigation measures can be implemented for individual exposure paths or groups of non-target organisms. Historically, the system has developed from a hazard assessment based on a few vertebrate species to a risk assessment based on a set of surrogate species including invertebrates. However, it still has a long way to go to be able to assess the impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem as required under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009.
In light of new scientific knowledge, the ERA framework has been improved over the years by EFSA. While the current framework provides ERAs based on sound scientific principles, it has become an increasingly complex and resource-demanding process. Moreover, such ERAs are perceived as not fully achieving the required level of protection. This is due to the unprecedented multicausal biodiversity loss, which has contributed to a dwindling public trust in the regulation of pesticides. Due to increasing complexity, an optimisation of the current ERA framework can no longer be achieved by simply amending the current system. A new paradigm is needed.
Today, we have a significant amount of data collected from ERAs and monitoring studies. We also have an advanced understanding of ecological processes and the technological capacities to simulate such processes. We must address the fact that organisms in an agricultural landscape are stressed by multiple pesticides and other stressors simultaneously. We can use this knowledge and new technologies to create a new ERA system. Numerous frameworks and strategies address the same environment, such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) or Sustainable Use (SUR), without much alignment between them but offering possibilities to reduce or compensate the adverse effects of pesticide use. This situation calls for a systems-based and holistically-framed approach, where interdependencies between species and stressors, as well as interactions between regulations, can be addressed. The ERA needs to have an ecological perspective considering the context of both the ecological and the production system, and it needs to be aligned with high-level EU strategies to fully achieve its purpose.