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Companies withhold studies of potential harm from pesticides

Tractor spraying pesticides at a soy bean field. Photo: Mostphotos/Dusan Kostic

A study conducted by researchers at Stockholm University reveals that one in four industry-funded studies on the potential harm of pesticides to the developing brain were not shared with European Union (EU) authorities by the producing companies. This non-disclosure raises concerns about the reliability of EU safety evaluations of pesticides and undermines trust in the system meant to protect European consumers. The researchers found that out of 35 eligible studies on developmental neurotoxicity (DNT), nine were not shared with EU authorities. In several cases, the undisclosed studies have already had or could potentially have regulatory consequences, such as changing toxicity reference values or hazard classifications, or leading to product removal from the market. This study highlights the recurring issue of non-disclosure, which can introduce bias into risk assessments and pose risks to human health. The researchers suggest revising the regulatory system to ensure that all studies are made available to authorities, with future studies commissioned by regulatory bodies rather than companies, and imposing legal consequences on pesticide companies for failing to disclose toxicity studies.