In this post, Carsten Brühl reports about a workshop on pesticide effects on amphibians he attended.
“Two weeks ago there was an expert workshop held at EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) in Dübendorf near Zürich. In the current aquatic guidance document for pesticide risk assessment in the EU the following paragraph can be found regarding amphibians:
“Even if the revised data requirements do not request toxicity tests for amphibian species, amphibians should be included in the aquatic and terrestrial RA of PPPs. Assessment of the risk to amphibians should be based on any existing relevant information.”
More than 30 stakeholders from industry, academia, conservation groups, authorities as well as farmers discussed the recent findings of pesticide effects on amphibians and focused especially on terrestrial life stages. The program was introduced by Marion Junghans of the Ecotox center of ETH Zurich and Benedikt Schmidt from Karch (Coordination for amphibian and reptile conservation in Switzerland) followed with a presentation covering the life history and ecology of amphibians. Other presentations were on toxicity and coincidence of pesticides and amphibians by Carsten Brühl and the regulatory system by Annette Aldrich of Agroscope (Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research). Caroline Aeberli an environmental lawyer explained the legal Precautionary principle implemented in environmental laws to address flaws in regulatory systems to allow immediate action. The discussion that followed the presentation block was productive and addressed current concerns of stakeholders. Only a few participants saw no real concern regarding potential pesticide effects on amphibian populations, whereas the majority asked for further research into toxicology and exposure pathways while in parallel mitigation measures should be developed. The results on threats and possible current immediate action leading to risk mitigation measures will be summarised in the course of the year.
In the evening a podiums discussion took place at the ETH Zürich with representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, the Environment, Pronatura and the pesticide industry association Science Industries. The events in Switzerland were the first official meeting that addressed the issue of pesticides and amphibians at a national level in Europe and the organisers Marion Junghans and Annette Aldrich have put a lot of effort in an important issue in current pesticide risk assessment. Thank you a lot!”
Carsten A. Brühl, Thomas Schmidt, Silvia Pieper, Annika Alscher (2013) Terrestrial pesticide exposure of amphibians: An underestimated cause of global decline? Scientific Reports, 3: 1135. DOI: 10.1038/srep01135
Carsten A. Brühl, Silvia Pieper and Brigitte Weber (2011) Amphibians at risk? – Susceptibility of terrestrial amphibian life stages to pesticides. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30: 2465–2472. DOI: 10.1002/etc.650