Lawmakers should recognize uncertainties in risk assessment
Author AffiliationsC. K. Winter is Director, Food Safe Program, and Extension Food Toxicologist, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis.
Hilgardia 48(1):21-21. DOI:10.3733/ca.v048n01p21. January 1994.
Dietary pesticide risk assessment is an imprecise process requiring a series of judgments based on both scientific and philosophical grounds. At best, it is a crude quantitative tool to prioritize risks and allocate resources — a method involving a great deal of uncertainty. Where uncertainties exist, scientists make conservative assumptions designed to increase the risk estimate so that errors are made on the side of safety.
While risk assessment plays a necessary and critical role in pesticide regulation, the uncertainty inherent in the process must be appreciated if appropriate science-based policies are to be developed. Scientific advances are needed to improve risk assessment accuracy, and policies must be flexible enough to allow such advances to be incorporated into the risk assessment process.
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