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Rapid Bioassay of Pesticide Residues (RBPR) on Fruits and Vegetables for Market Inspection and Farm Education

In view of the increasing public concern on food safety, most Asian countries are now making considerable efforts to reduce agro-chemical residues in food, particularly on perishable fruits and vegetables. Small-scale farmers, especially in tropical and subtropical climates, have become heavily dependent on chemical pesticide usage to achieve high-quality fruits and vegetables, thus resulting in considerable risk of contamination of the agricultural produce.

The concentration of various agro-chemical residues allowable in food is periodically discussed and recommended by the Codex Alimentarius based on strictly scientific risk assessment methods. Some developed countries such as Japan adopt this Codex standard on chemical residues for domestic as well as for imported agricultural products. This, however, requires a highly sophisticated analytical technology to monitor pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables for export to these developed countries. Meanwhile, small-scale farmers are major players of domestic agricultural production in most developing countries in the ASPAC region. Therefore, a simple and less costly method is necessary as an alternative to the sophisticated counterpart, in order to protect local consumers from contaminated fruits and vegetables at the farm gate and the local market levels.

The Rapid Bioassay for Pesticide Residues (RBPR) was developed in Taiwan in 1985 and since then, it has been successfully adopted as a supplement to sophisticated chemical analysis for the routine residue test of large amounts of samples, by more than 200 stations over the island covering farmer associations, various food supply systems, and major supermarket chains. Compared to the standardized instrument/chemical analysis used by many developed countries, RBPR has both advantages and disadvantages. For instance, some of its advantages include: less-costly, simpler and rapid operation; and no intensive training and sophisticated instruments required. However, it is less accurate/precise compared to chemical analysis, and is not applicable to all the chemical pesticides.

This training course is intended for various experts responsible for food safety policy directly and/or indirectly such as government researchers and inspection officers, laboratory technicians, and extension workers in the ASPAC region. It aims to equip the participants with a working knowledge of RBPR as a rapid testing/screening tool for pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables. This is the second year implementation of the training course, and based on the previous participants’ appraisal, the training curriculum and technical guide booklet are revised and improved to further promote the use of RBPR in many developing countries in the ASPAC region.

The training workshop will be held at the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) of Taiwan where the participants will undergo intensive lectures and hands-on training on the RBPR technique, and on-site visits to rapid bioassay stations for technical orientation.

Objectives:

  1. To understand the basic principles of RBPR and its applicable limitations for rapid monitoring of pesticide residues;
  2. To provide participants with a working knowledge of the RBPR technology for fruits and vegetables;
  3. To understand the importance of “risk communication” for the promotion of consumer acceptance of RBPR for food safety; and
  4. To facilitate farmers’ education on the proper use of chemical pesticides under intensive farming.
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