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Conference Brief: Balancing Risks And Benefits Of Pesticides On Foods

March 31, 1998

The thought of pesticide residues on food raises a red flag in the minds of most consumers. But not all pesticide residues are unhealthy; and in some cases pesticides actually increase the safety of foods, stresses Carl Winter, a toxicologist with expertise in the area of food safety. In specific cases, pesticides may effectively reduce the levels of naturally occurring toxins produced by the plants in response to insect stress or by fungi that live on the plants. Winter will discuss the risk of naturally occurring toxins, including aflatoxins in corn and a newly discovered class of toxins known as fumonisins found on corn and tomatoes. He also will suggest that the Environmental Protection Agency's pesticide residue regulations need to be fine-tuned to better reflect the relative benefits and risks presented by a pesticide when used on a specific crop. "We need to identify the health-based limits for pesticides residues," Winter says. "Current pesticide 'tolerance levels' only indicate whether the grower used chemicals on the crop."

Carl Winter
Director, UC Davis FoodSafe Program
Presentation: "Pesticides and Human Health: Dietary Benefits and Safety Assurance "
Time and place: Tuesday, March 31, 1:30 p.m.,
Convention Center Room D270, Level 2

Media contacts:

Carl Winter, (530) 752-5448,;

Patricia Bailey, News Service, (530) 752-9843,

University of California - Davis

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