The SPRINT consortium recently collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to organise a joint webinar to raise awareness about an ongoing EU-funded project, SPRINT.  The event was organised and moderated by our partners from the Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire (UK).

120 participants joined from all over the world, with attendees from every continent besides Antarctica. Attendees came from a range of backgrounds, including international organisations, governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations, academia, and the private sector.  The event was a great success, with lively discussion throughout.

A recording of the event is available here:


The event began with an overview of the SPRINT project, presented by Wageningen University and Research. SPRINT is making an internationally valid contribution to research through assessing the integrated risks and impacts of pesticide use on environmental and human health, with research being carried out across 11 case study sites across Europe and in Argentina. SPRINT will also develop innovative transition pathways to help policymakers understand how to achieve more sustainable use of pesticides. You can watch a 2-minute explainer video on the SPRINT project here.

Next, Beatrice Grenier of the FAO gave an overview of how SPRINT is relevant to their activities and how they are contributing to the project. The aims of SPRINT align closely with several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through contributing to achieving sustainable agriculture. The FAO will contribute to SPRINT by testing the global workability of the toolbox whilst working on policy guidance on ways of reducing the risks of pesticide use.

Rex Horgan, of the EU’s health and safety Directorate-General (DG SANTE) then provided an overview of how this research fits within EU policy. He explained that SPRINT is closely linked with the EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, with the project playing a role in finding a path towards sustainable food production through the use of a multi-actor approach.

We also heard about several aspects of the SPRINT project, including how the project is investigating the impacts of pesticides on human and environmental health, the structure of the SPRINT global health risk assessment toolbox, and how we will seek transition pathways towards reduced use and risk.

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If you would like to download the slides for each presentation, you can do so below:

 Introducing the SPRINT project  Vera Felix da Grace Silva, Wageningen University & Research (NL)
 FAO involvement in SPRINT  Beatrice Grenier, FAO
 EU policy context  Rex Horgan, DG SANTE
 Impacts of pesticides on human and environmental health  Paul Scheepers, Radboud University Medical Centre (NL)
 Structure of the SPRINT Global Health Risk Assessment toolbox  Jakub Hofman, RECETOX, Masaryk University (CZ)
Transition pathways towards reduced use and risk  Ana Frelih-Larsen, Ecologic Institute (DE)


 Question and answer sessions

We held two question and answer sessions during the webinar, which led to some in-depth discussions surrounding the SPRINT project alongside the future of pesticide use itself. Here, we provide a few examples of the questions posed during the webinar:

Q: Will you be exploring the fate of metabolites in the environment?

We are analyzing 200 pesticide residues in the field samples. This list includes active substances and metabolites. You can see the reasoning behind our analysis here: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259748

 Q: How is the EU Commission helping developing countries to transition away from pesticide use?

The EU Chemicals Strategy mentions some specific points on this. The EU will:
  • Promote the sound management of chemicals through international cooperation and partnerships, in bilateral, regional and multilateral fora, including through cooperation with Africa, as well as cooperation with neighbours and other partners to support their capacity to assess and manage chemicals in a sound manner;
  • Lead by example, and, in line with international commitments, ensure that hazardous chemicals banned in the European Union are not produced for export, including by amending relevant legislation if and as needed;
  • Promote due diligence for the production and use of chemicals within the upcoming initiative on sustainable corporate governance. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/chemicals-strategy_en

Q: Are there specific gender-based constraints in access to knowledge on pesticides?

FAO is currently working on a publication called "Addressing gender issues in pesticide management", whilst SPRINT is considering gender at multiple levels. for instance, in the SPRINT field campaigns, we have collected samples from male and female participants. participants = farmers, neighbours, and consumers.