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Epigenetics and Risk Assessment

EFSA is holding a Scientific Colloquium on 14th June in Valencia to debate this topic, which could have future implications for the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides, biocides and general chemicals.

Epigenetic changes are molecular changes mainly in chromatin, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, that modulate gene expression directly or indirectly through the expression of non-coding RNAs. There is increasing evidence to suggest that individual lifestyles, nutrition and environmental stressors can affect epigenetic processes and as a result, alter phenotypes, longevity, health and disease both within generations (from embryogenesis to adulthood) and in a trans-generational manner. Considerable research in this area has focused on vertebrates (including human), although the number of studies published on invertebrate species and plants is rapidly increasing.

This colloquium will bring together experts dealing with epigenetics and human health, animal health and environmental risk assessment of chemicals. There will be an open scientific debate on where we stand regarding knowledge of epigenetics mechanisms and the potential use and integration of epigenetic data in chemical risk assessment. Participants at the colloquium will critically discuss whether epigenomics data should be integrated into risk assessments, and whether this would improve hazard identification and characterisation, and make a meaningful contribution to the risk assessment process. A further objective aims at addressing molecular mechanisms, methods to investigate epigenetic effects in vitro and in in vivo, the use of epigenetic biomarkers and identifying existing data gaps and research needs.

The background information is available at

For advice on risk assessment and further information on the registration of plant protection products, biocides or general chemicals, or any other regulatory issues, please contact JSC on +44 (0)1423 520245,

Published 23rd March 2016
Categories Agrochemicals, Links, News
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