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Making an impact with pesticide assessments

With over two million tons of pesticides used annually worldwide, from 900 active ingredients, the human health and environmental risks are high. Making data from so many products used in so many environments more widely available online is helping risk assessors work out what action to take.

Finding a uniform means of assessment has, in the past, always come up against a major obstacle the huge variation in database technologies, types and quality of data, and the different bodies maintaining that data across Europe. Partners in the IST project GIMMI aimed to find a means of overcoming such wide disparities in data and data quality, and to develop a way of making such data more widely available. In effect, GIMMI planned to bridge the gap in pesticide impact assessment between the data providers (soil, meteorology, agronomy, pesticides), the scientists (chemists, geologists, modellers) and end-users such as government bodies, public administrations and the pesticide manufacturing industry. What the project partners have done is to develop a Web and WAP-interfaced Geographical Information System (GIS) method of making agronomic data available to users (other than the data owner) across Europe. By using the GIMMI website, a public administration in the UK for example can gain access to soil sample data maintained by one of the regional governments in Italy. Improving data interoperability "We have managed to overcome many of the problems of sharing inconsistent and poorly-structured data, and in doing so have improved the interoperability of that data, says project coordinator Matteo Villa of TXT e-Solutions in Milan. "The advantage for public data providers is that all they have to do is to maintain their data. They don't have to worry about how to extract the information that is performed by GIMMI. The GIMMI methodology was tested in Lombardy in northern Italy, Catalonia in Spain and in the Gulf of Guayaquil in Ecuador, regions with widely varying climates, soil types and crops. Using advanced mathematical models applied to GIS-based analysis, the GIMMI method proved capable of managing the different databases involved as well as allowing easy integration of new data, all without requiring structural modifications. ,The system is now being used by one of the project partners, ERSAL the Lombardy regional agency for agricultural development, to evaluate the risks of pesticide use within the region. "EU legislation now requires much more use of impact assessments before new agronomical practices are put into place, says Villa. "The Lombardy region is the first in Italy that is capable of meeting this legislation, and other regions are likely to follow the Lombardy example. Contact: ,Matteo Villa,TXT e-Solutions SpA,Via Frigia 27 ,I-20126 Milan ,Italy,Tel: +39-02-25771341 ,Email: matteo.villa@txt.itPublished by the IST Results service which brings you online ICT news and analysis on the emerging results from the European Commission's Information Society Technologies research initiative. The service reports on prototype products and services ready for commercialisation as well as work in progress and interim results with significant potential for exploitation.