Symposium Highlights Risk of Pesticides and other Chemicals on Migratory Species

Bonn, 24 May 2018 - The Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemicals (SETAC) held its 28th meeting in Rome from 13 to 17 May 2018, under the central theme “Responsible and Innovative Research for Environmental Quality”. One of the programme highlights was a special symposium on “Migratory Species at Risk, the Role of Pesticides and other Chemicals”, which took place on 15 May co-organized by CMS and the Wildlife Toxicology Interest Group which operates under SETAC.

Migratory species, and birds in particular, are under pressure worldwide due to habitat destruction, unsustainable hunting and the impact of pollutants. This range of threats makes management of migratory birds a complex issue. These threats may act across part or all a flyway which may cross borders and multiple diverse habitats. There is more and more concern on the impacts of chemicals and this issue requires specific attention. Obtaining clear evidence of pollution-mediated effects is very complicated due to the long-range movements of migratory birds, complex exposure scenarios to different classes of compound in different regions along migration routes, and the logistics of working across multiple countries. This complex issue can only be solved by applying new and innovative tools and concepts. This is essential, for example, for non-destructive collection of sampling and back-tracking of exposure routes.

The meeting provided an opportunity to showcase the work of the CMS Preventing Poisoning Working Group and the Guidelines to prevent Poisoning which have been adopted by the CMS Conference of Parties (COP). Presentations were given on the impact of pesticides, rodenticides, lead ammunition, poison-baits and veterinary drugs, in addition to poster sessions. Views on the need of regulation were expressed by representatives of the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), describing the extent to which regulation takes into account neighbouring countries and regional use of compounds, accounts for how local use might affect migratory birds, and how field data might feed into regulatory processes. The recent establishment of a Lead Task Group by the CMS COP in Manila was portrayed as an example of cooperation in the efforts to minimize the impact of some of the worst contaminants.

This Conference provided a unique opportunity to bring together scientists and policy-makers to discuss the topic of pollution and migratory species. The scientific community responded enthusiastically to the call for a specific Symposium on Migratory Birds and Chemicals and actively contributed to identifying the main gaps in knowledge of risks from pesticides, lead, diclofenac and other products that are highly toxic to birds.

Bradnee Chambers, CMS Executive Secretary

SETAC is a scientific society with more than 5,200 members in all parts of the world. Its objectives are advancing and communicating science, developing the next generation of scientists and environmental engineers, and supporting these individuals throughout their careers.

For more information please contact Borja Heredia.

Last updated on 12 September 2018