Two neonicotinoid insecticides may harm the developing nervous system, and exposure should be limited to below current recommendations, says the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – are already subject to a two-year European ban, after an EFSA report said in January that they may pose a "high acute risk" to pollinators, including honeybees.
EFSA’s latest recommendation, that acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels for human exposure should be revised downward, was based on a rat study that linked two neonicotinoid insecticides – acetamiprid and imidacloprid – to adverse effects on the development of neurons and brain structures. Imidacloprid was one of the substances linked to declining bee health earlier this year.
Based on its review, EFSA recommended that the ADI for acetamiprid should be revised from 0.07 mg per kg of bodyweight per day to 0.025 mg per kg – and the level at which workers should be exposed to the substance should be lowered in parallel.
For imidacloprid, EFSA said the ADI already provided adequate protection against potential neurotoxic effects, but said the level for workers should be revised from 0.08 mg/ kg of bodyweight per day to 0.06 mg/kg.
The food safety body said in a statement: “EFSA recognises the evidence has limitations and recommends further research be carried out to provide more robust data. However, the PPR Panel [on Plant Protection Products and their Residues]said health concerns raised in the review are legitimate.”