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Working Together for the Common Good: Benin Hosts Interregional Training Course on Pesticide Residue Identification

Paricipants testing animal products for pesticide residues in the course of the training. (Photo: Mauricio Gonzalez Zeledon)

Twenty trainees from Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Paraguay, Mongolia, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay have returned to their home countries better equipped to identify and assess levels of pesticide residues in animal products following completion of an interregional  technical cooperation training course, held in Cotonou, Benin from 13 to 24 March, 2017.  

The training course[1], organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in cooperation with the Government of Benin through the Central Laboratory for Food Health Safety (LCSSA), was designed to enhance the analytical laboratory capabilities of Member States. Pesticide residues can pose health risks and must be regulated using maximum residue levels as a reference. Member States need specific skills, equipment and analytical methodologies to collect reliable residue occurrence data, and to measure this data against established maximum residue levels. In addition, harmonized analytical methods allow Member States to share and compare data.

Participants in the training course gained knowledge to facilitate the collection of information on pesticide residue levels in animal products that present trade and public health concerns common to all their home countries. The participants received practical training, including on the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs), together with three formal lectures. According to Ms Natalia Baccino, one of the course participants from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries in Uruguay, this was an interesting opportunity to share experiences, and to learn from each other.

“Official laboratories play an important role in assuring food safety from the farm to table, which is why it is important that counterparts all around the world harmonize criteria. To achieve this goal it is important to have SOPs fit for that purpose”, Ms Baccino said.

The project INT5154 is equipping several Member State laboratories with unique capabilities to gather residue occurrence data that can be useful in standards setting through cooperation between concerned countries across regions. The training course in Benin provided a platform for such cooperation, offering tailored practical laboratory exercises, group discussions, and support for data processing and reporting.

Official laboratories play an important role in assuring food safety from the farm to table, which is why it is important that counterparts all around the world harmonize criteria. To achieve this goal it is important to have SOPs fit for that purpose.
Natalia Baccino

Hands on training is especially important in the training courses, to guarantee the knowledge can be passed on in the participants' home countries. (Photo: Mauricio Gonzalez Zeledon)

BACKGROUND

A pesticide is any product that kills or controls various types of pests (weeds, insect, fungi, rodents and so on). The use of these pesticides to improve agricultural production is a common and in many cases inevitable practice around the world. However, usage may result in potentially harmful residues and laboratories play a critical role in safeguarding consumers of the food products. Nuclear and isotopic techniques are used in residue monitoring programmes supported by these laboratories.

 


[1] The course was supported by project INT5154, ‘Improving Food Safety through the Creation of an Interregional Network that Produces Reliable Scientific Data Using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques’.