Skip to main content


Table 1 Active substances approved in the EU and important toxicological properties according to risk assessments by EFSA. Data compiled from the EU pesticides database [66] and from Commission Regulation 889/2008 (consolidated version 2016–11-07) Annex II Sections 1–3 [6]

From: Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review

  Approved in EU agriculturea Also approved in EU organic agriculturea
Total number of EU-approved active substances (+ basic substancesb) 385 (+15) 26 (+10)
Of these:
 Any identified toxicityc 340 10
 Classified asd   
  Acutely toxic class 1 + 2 + 3 + 4, totale 5 + 17 + 26 + 76, 99 0 + 0 + 2 + 2, 3f
  Carcinogenicity category 2g 27 0
  Germ cell mutagenicity category 2h 2 0
  Reproductive toxicity category 1B + 2i 5 + 21 0
 Candidate for substitutionj
  Low ADI/ARfD/AOEL 19 0
  Two PBT criteria fulfilledk 54 1l
  Reproductive toxicity 1Bi 5 0
  Endocrine disrupting properties 5 0
  1. aFollowing the practice of [6], the groups of copper compounds, pheromones, fatty acids C7 to C20 (only potassium salts approved for organic agriculture) and paraffin oils are counted as one substance per group. In deviation from [6], plant oils are counted as four substances due to different toxicological properties. Microorganisms (biological plant protection products) are not included
  2. bBasic substances are compounds with a low risk profile that are useful in plant protection but primarily have other uses. Basic substances have a different approval procedure compared to active substances in the EU
  3. cIdentified chronic (ADI – acceptable daily intake assigned) and/or acute toxicity (ARfD – acute reference dose assigned) and/or an identified acceptable operator exposure level (AOEL)
  4. dAccording to Regulation 1272/2008. Only classifications that relate to human health effects and to at least one of the criteria for “candidates for substitution” are included in the table (e.g. skin sensitisation not included). These classifications relate to a compound’s intrinsic hazardous properties, irrespective of its use and exposure pattern. Classifications without any compound are not included in this table (e.g. carcinogenicity class 1 A + B)
  5. eClass 1 referring to the highest acute toxicity. Some substances have multiple classifications for different endpoints, therefore the total number of compounds is lower than the sum
  6. fPyrethrins, extract from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium, are classified as acutely toxic class 4. In addition, two acutely toxic synthetic pyrethroids are approved for use in certain insect traps in organic agriculture: lambda-cyhalothrin (class 3 + 4) and deltamethrin (class 3)
  7. gCategory 2: “Suspected human carcinogens”. (Category 1A/B: known/presumed to have carcinogenic potential for humans. No substances in this class)
  8. hCategory 2: “Substances which cause concern for humans owing to the possibility that they may induce heritable mutations in the germ cells of humans”. (Category 1A/B: “Substances known to/to be regarded as if they induce heritable mutations in the germ cells of humans”. No substances in this class)
  9. i1B: “Presumed human reproductive toxicant”, 2: “Suspected human reproductive toxicant”. (1A: “Known human reproductive toxicant”. No substances in this class)
  10. jRefers to approved substances that should be replaced when less hazardous substances/products are available. The criteria “Carcinogenic 1A/1B” (no compound), “Nature of critical effects” (no compound, no criteria defined) and “Non-active isomers” (two compounds, none approved in organic agriculture) are omitted from this table
  11. kPBT criteria: persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic according to criteria specified in [65]
  12. lCopper. PBT classification based on accumulation in freshwater/estuarine sediment (P) and toxicity to algae and daphnia (T)