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The Pesticide Programme aims to harmonise the testing and assessment of agricultural pesticides, to promote work sharing and risk reduction. It achieves this by helping OECD countries to co-operate in the review of both chemical and biological pesticides used in Agriculture.


The Programme focuses on the use of modern biotechnology to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and environmental safety. With the programme on food and feed safety (see below) it aims to help OECD countries evaluate the potential risks of GMOs and ensure a higher standard of safety, to foster communication and mutual understanding of the regulatory process in different countries, and to reduce non-tariff trade barriers.

Consensus documents on the biology of Papaya and Oyster mushroom were recently published, bringing the total number of consensus documents to 29.

Two expert workshops on the biology of Atlantic salmon took place in Moscow (November 2004) and Trondheim (October 2005). These concluded that a similar approach to that used for environmental risk/safety assessment for transgenic plants could be used for transgenic fish, and a draft operational plan for a consensus document on the biology of Atlantic salmon was agreed. At its most recent meeting, the Working Group decided to begin work on this consensus document, thus addressing environmental risk/ safety issues associated with an animal species for the first time.

One of the major recent achievements related to BioTrack Online is the development of guidance for the designation of a unique identifier for transgenic plants. The Working Group is currently considering how the unique identifier will be applied to products other than transgenic plants – especially micro-organisms.

As the conference of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol has requested the OECD to continue work in developing unique identifiers, progress will be reported at COP-MOP/ 3.

At the 17th meeting held 24-26 October 2005, the Working Group finalised a draft Programme of Work on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology for 2006-2008. It will be considered by the 39th Joint Meeting in February 2006. During the last couple of years, there has been increased participation of other non-members such as Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, China, Egypt, India and Philippines, mostly under the auspices of OECD’s Global Forum on the Knowledge-based Economy.

Forthcoming events:

bulletA side-event of COP-MOP/ 3 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Blue Book
bullet18th Meeting of the Working Group for the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in
Biotechnology, Berne, 7-9 June 2006.

Recent publications:

bulletConsensus Document on the Biology of Papaya
bulletConsensus Document on the Biology of Oyster mushroom


The work of the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds is complementary to that of the Working Group for Harmonisation in Biotechnology.

There has been an increasing participation from other key non-member economies such as: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Latvia, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, and Thailand. This has been achieved under the auspices of OECD’s Centre for Co-operation with non-members.

Building on a Special Session (held during the 9th meeting in October 2004) on the use of consensus documents, the Task Force addressed at its 10th meeting (held in June 2005) how to involve more actively the expertise and interests of non member economies. One practical outcome is that Thailand and South Africa have now started to work on two consensus documents in co-operation with member countries.

These documents are on papaya (Thailand) and cassava (South Africa). This will broaden the expertise that is available to the Task Force, while addressing a wider range of food and feed products that are of global interest.

During the 10th meeting of the Task Force, held in June 2005, it was agreed that the programme of work will be renewed during 2006-2008. Although the development of consensus documents will remain as the highest priority, a number of issues emerged during the discussion. For example, it was recognized that it will be important to be complementary to the activities of FAO/WHO/ Codex Alimentarius Commission. It was also considered important to consider safety issues related to novel foods (non-transgenic in origin) with “no history of safe use”. Finally, it was agreed that there is a need to continue to strengthen the input of key non members. The draft Programme of Work will be considered at the next Joint Meeting (February 2006).

Forthcoming event:

bullet11th Meeting of the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds, Berlin, Germany, 6-8 March 2006.

Recent publications:

bulletConsensus Document on Compositional Considerations for New Varieties of Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.): Key Food and Feed Nutrients and Anti-Nutrients
bulletConsensus Document on Compositional Considerations for New Varieties of Alfalfa and Other Temperate Forage Legumes: Key Feed Nutrients, Anti-Nutrients and Secondary Plant Metabolites

Upcoming publication:

bulletAn Introduction to the Food/Feed Safety Consensus Documents of the Task force Web site: Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds available through BioTrack Online: http://www.oecd.org/biotrack


Nanotechnology involves materials and working devices or machines that are engineered at the scale of atoms and molecules. The main objective of on-going work in this area is to assist countries in developing its tools to allow them to better address the safety aspects of manufactured nanomaterials.

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