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Reproduction effects of pesticides and chronic diseases

Reproduction effects of humans are rising in the western societies. Sperm quality of men is on the decline, getting pregnant is more and more a problem, testicular cancer is rising as well as all kinds of disorders at the reproductive tract. The foetus is the most vulnerable phase for reproductive effects and the effects can be caused by carcinogens, neurotoxicants or endocrine disrupting pesticides. Since human organism is an interconnected system, many effects might work indirectly. This topic of reproduction therefore has an overlap with other topics like neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption.

In Regulation 1107/2009 reproductive effects are part of the ‘cut-off’ criteria which, apart from endocrine effects, deal with the so-called CMR classification, carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproduction. Based on the weight of the evidence a substance can be in R1 (enough evidence for human effects), R2 (enough evidence from animal studies) or R3 (limited evidence from animal studies), as determined by Regulation 1272/2008.

For reproduction the obligatory standard test for industry is the 2-year rat study along with a study in mouse. For different endpoints (written down in the OECD test requirements) the outcome of the tests needs to be reported. Member States and EFSA (peer-review) evaluate the studies. Apart from those pesticides with a fixed R-classification (only a few), no criteria are used for a decision on reproduction. Even grave effects could be overruled in the voting system in the Standing Committee of national representatives if commercial interests are high. 

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