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Fruits of fear

48/2021, 14.12.2021

The latest issue of the BfR2GO science magazine is dedicated to the mistrust surrounding plant protection products

Plant protection products are a controversial topic in society. Some people are suspicious of these products, and there is a clash of opposing opinions. The latest issue of the BfR2GO science magazine published by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is dedicated to this fear. "Especially with a topic that unsettles the public, it is important to remain objective," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Our aim is to provide objective and neutral information. The BfR's independent scientific assessments help to improve food safety." The ninth issue of the BfR2GO also includes a number of articles on the subjects of food, product and chemical safety, as well as the welfare of laboratory animals.

The magazine’s focus article addresses the issue of whether the use of plant protection products is a cause for concern, and explains how these, and the active substances they contain, are authorised and approved within the EU. BfR scientist Dr. Tewes Tralau explains in an interview why it is important to distinguish between scientifically assessed risks and theoretical hazards in a risk assessment, and why substances that are dangerous per se do not have to be banned flat out. He also outlines why even organic farming has to use plant protection products, and says: "It won't work without chemistry."

A further topic covered by the latest BfR2GO issue is the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl group of chemical substances. There are over 4,700 of these compounds. They are called PFAS for short and are found in many everyday products such as cleaning agents, outdoor clothing, fast food packaging and non-stick pans - and are extremely long-lasting. They are absorbed by the body and can be detected in the blood. The health impacts of PFAS have not yet been conclusively determined. The BfR is thus participating in research into the complicated relationship between PFAS and the human organism.

Also in this BfR2GO issue: Vitamin D. The benefits of the 'sun hormone' is undisputed, yet the BfR's assessment is rather reserved. Plus: nicotine pouches are a new trend in the nicotine products market - they contain no tobacco, but nicotine salts. A BfR research team is investigating the health impacts of consuming pouches. For example, results of the study show that the weight-related nicotine contents of these products show a wide range. This may present a health risk. The new issue of the magazine also addresses: the transport of hazardous goods. BfR’s expertise is also in demand when it comes to transport safety.

Compact and packed to the brim with knowledge, the BfR2GO science magazine provides up-to-date and well-founded information about research and the assessment of this research in consumer health protection and about the protection of laboratory animals. Each issue presents a topic focusing on one of the BfR’s current fields of work. Moreover, there are reports, interviews and information from all areas of the BfR's work.

The science magazine BfR2GO is published twice a year in German and English. It is published on the BfR website and can be downloaded free of charge or ordered directly. In addition, those interested can register for a free subscription.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States ('Laender') on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.



Date Title Size
BfR2GO, Issue 2/2021, Key Topic: Food and pesticides
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Publications - Science Magazine

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Science Magazine
BfR2GO, Issue 2/2021, Key Topic: Food and pesticides 6.4 MB


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