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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

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Updated on 11/05/2017

A web portal for databases on pesticides properties

Inventory of databases on the physico-chemical, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of pesticides

Keywords : Pesticides

In March 2008, as part of its first Action Plan (2006-2008), the French Observatory for Pesticide Residues asked a group of multidisciplinary experts to conduct the preliminary work necessary to provide a database on the physico-chemical, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of pesticides. This work led to the publication of the October 2010 report “Web portal for databases on pesticide properties – statement of requirements”.

There are numerous databases on the physico-chemical, environmental, ecotoxicological and toxicological properties of active substances, offering broad diversity in the range of active substances and properties covered. The coexistence of multiple databases disperses the data and makes research difficult for a user seeking information on pesticide properties. The ability to access all databases from a single interface would facilitate this research.

In this context, in March 2008, as part of its first Action Plan (2006-2008), the French Observatory for Pesticide Residues asked a group of multidisciplinary experts to conduct the preliminary work necessary to provide a database on the physico-chemical, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of pesticides. This work led to the publication of the October 2010 report “Web portal for databases on pesticide properties – statement of requirements”.

This work had two objectives:

  • establish an inventory of existing databases; 
  • prepare the statement of requirements for a web portal for databases on pesticide properties.

Its purpose was to facilitate access to these databases through the creation of a web portal page.

These studies were conducted in three phases:

  • research and analysis of databases on the physico-chemical, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of pesticides;
  • identification of requirements by the expert group;
  • identification of requirements through a survey.

 

Results and recommendations

The survey conducted among potential users of the future portal site helped to identify a certain number of expectations with respect to this portal and to clarify the specifications. It appears that initially access to data links should be made possible in various ways in order to cover the range of expectations surveyed: entry by active substance, by commercial product, by disease, by insect to be managed. These entries make it possible to meet the traditional requirements of farmers who are familiar with trade names rather than the active substances they contain, as well as the needs of people wanting to know what products to use to deal with a specific plant health problem. This approach calls for close collaboration among the database holders to allow for this array of entries.

The work conducted has also helped to identify the type of user population that could fully benefit from the information made available through a portal website. This work has shown that the portal site covered a wide range of potential users, from thematic experts to members of the public who want to obtain general information on pesticides but are unfamiliar with the type of data available in the databases. This observation led the expert group to recommend a plain-language version of the information in the databases, which includes a short text summarising the main characteristics of each of the active substances listed.

Finally, the work confirmed that the most useful format for the proposed web portal is a set of direct hypertext links to the data rather than creating a new database, that builds upon the existing ones. The development of a high quality portal site will inevitably require adjustments on the part of the administrators of the various databases to allow easy and relevant accessto the individual data.