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.
The project partners have developed a Web and WAP-interfaced 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.
“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 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.