Developing prototypes of a modernized approach to assess crop protection chemical safety

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Richard Currie , John Abbott, David A. Dreier, Haitian Lu, Tharacad Ramanarayanan, Natalia Ryan, Odette A. Watkins, Douglas C. Wolf
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In 2019, the US EPA Administrator issued a directive directing the agency away from reliance on vertebrate tests by 2035, whilst maintaining high-quality human health and environmental risk assessments. There is no accepted approach to achieve this. The decade-long duration of the crop protection (CP) chemical R&D process therefore requires both the invention and application of a modernized approach to those CP chemical projects entering corporate research portfolios by the mid-2020s. We conducted problem formulation discussions with regulatory agency scientists which created the problem statement: “Develop, demonstrate, and implement a modern scientifically sound and robust strategy that applies appropriate and flexible exposure and effects characterization without chemical specific vertebrate tests to reliably address risk, uncertainties, and deficiencies in data and its interpretation with equivalent confidence as do the currently accepted test guidelines and meet the regulatory needs of the agencies”. The solution must provide the knowledge needed to confidently conclude human health and environmental protective risk assessments. Exploring this led to a conceptual model involving the creation and parallel submission of a new approach without reliance on chemical-specific vertebrate tests. Assessment in parallel to a traditional package will determine whether it supports some, or all, of the necessary risk management actions. Analysis of any deficiencies will provide valuable feedback to focus development of tools or approaches for subsequent iterations. When found to provide sufficient information, it will form the technical foun­dation of stakeholder engagement to explore acceptance of a new approach to CP chemical risk assessment.

Plain language summary
The US EPA, and other regulatory agencies, aim to reduce the use of vertebrate animal tests for assessing risks of crop protection chemicals. There is currently no accepted way to do this. We outline a proposal to perform both the assessment using traditional vertebrate testing and a set of new non-animal methods. These data sets must each be combined with a calculated estimate of user exposure to the pesticide based on its intended use. Comparing the outcome of these two assess­ments will show whether the set of non-animal methods needs to be improved further. When the new approach appears to reliably predict the risks, the different stakeholders must be brought together to assess whether the non-animal methods package is acceptable and can replace the tests on vertebrate animals while maintaining the same level of protection of human health and the environment.

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How to Cite
Currie, R. (2024) “Developing prototypes of a modernized approach to assess crop protection chemical safety ”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 41(1), pp. 119–130. doi: 10.14573/altex.2307181.

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