Pesticides

Agrochemicals used on crops

The agrochemicals used on oilseed rape are not different to those used on other crops and there is no evidence to suggest that any of the pesticides commonly used on oilseed rape are responsible for any adverse health effects following exposure to the crop (IEH Assessment A3 Oilseed Rape Allergenicity & Irritancy, 1997).

On face value the IEH (Institute for Environment & Health) appears to have made a reasonably safe assessment of harm using the substantial equivalence technique, however, the author would question the validity of this assessment. Holistically speaking, research scientists would have had to identify other crops planted in dense monoculture that also emit high levels of terpenes (and secondary pollutants) during the flowering phase.  Furthermore, scientists would have had to evaluate the effects of multiple chemical exposure on human health due to the combination of pesticides applied to the crop, the terpenes released from the flowering crop and the secondary pollutants generated as a result of the terpenes. 

When reviewing IEH Assessment A3, the author can find no evidence supporting the view that research scientists have taken a holistic approach to arrive at the conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest that any of the pesticides commonly used on oilseed rape are responsible for any adverse health effects following exposure to the crop.

Pesticides applied on oilseed rape crops

On average, each oilseed rape crop received two herbicide sprays, one fungicide spray and one insecticide spray. A number of herbicides are also used on rape crops but these are generally applied before the flowering period and so have not been included.

The following agrochemicals are used on oilseed rape in the UK, however, the chemicals involved are also used on other arable crops also:

Fungicides

  • Carbendazim
  • Flusilazole
  • Iprodione
  • Iprodione/thiophanate methyl
  • Maneb
  • Prochloraz
  • Sulphur
  • Tebuconazole
  • Vinclozolin

Insecticides

  • Alpha-cypermethrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Fenvalerate
  • Triazophos

Herbicides & Desiccants

  • Disquat
  • Glyphosate
  • Glufosinate
  • Glufosinate ammonium

According to the 1996 Pesticide Guide, agrochemicals containing the above pesticides (with the exception of Carbendazim, Flusilazole & Iprodione/thiophanate methyl) may be irritant, harmful or sensitising to humans. Most agrochemicals should therefore be applied strictly in accordance with COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) Regulations.

Author - Armitage; copyright 2007

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