Introduction to Pesticide Profiles

John Unsworth
2nd April 2010


Critical evaluation and summary of data related to pesticide chemistry as well as environmental and toxicology studies accompanies the registration approval of a given pesticide at the national or regional level. Evaluations are also used in the establishment of various international standards. In addition, some evaluation and summary of pesticide data may be completed by non-governmental organisations. Before making reference to a published evaluation it is important to review it carefully and determine if there are any ambiguities or conclusions that might require further explanation. Depending on the source, published evaluations may contain divergent conclusions or controversial interpretations based on particular national science policy (e.g., FQPA in the U.S.) or evaluator bias.


In general, however, there is a lack of co-ordination to make this information widely available to interested regulators and research scientists on a global basis. However, a comprehensive compilation of data on pesticides is the FOOTPRINT database.  This is a relational database of pesticide physicochemical, ecotoxicological and toxicological data, containing information on about 650 active ingredients and 200 metabolites1and is accessible from this site. FAO/IAEA has launched a project entitled INFOCRIS (International Food Contaminant and Residue Information System). The INFOCRIS site gives comprehensive pesticide profiles for a large number of pesticides in an easy to read and searchable format2.


Some of the other pesticide evaluations which are published and available via the internet are summarised below.


WHO evaluations3,4 are co-ordinated by the International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS), and are focused on mammalian toxicology and human safety aspects. The evaluations themselves are most often based on data submitted by the manufacturer as part of the process to establish Codex MRLs through the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), WHO product quality specifications through the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Specifications (JMPS) or WHO water quality guidelines. Each detailed evaluation, which may be more than 100 pages in length, considers critical mammalian toxicology and metabolism data, establishes toxicology end points of interest (e.g., NOEL), and recommends relevant technical endpoints such as the acceptable daily intake (ADI) or acute reference dose (ARfD In addition, WHO has produced secondary technical documents which summarise the results of detailed evaluations, including WHO Pesticide Data Sheets and WHO Health and Safety Guides. The evaluations completed by scientists working under WHO or FAO auspices are widely recognised for their high technical quality and unbiased and authoritative nature.


FAO evaluations5 are generally based on data submitted by the manufacturer as part of the process to establish Codex MRLs through the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). Each detailed evaluation, which may be more than 100 pages in length, considers good agricultural practice (GAP) for a particular pesticide, analytical methods for residues, plant and animal metabolism studies and residue trials, and recommends proposed maximum residue limits (MRLs), supervised trial median residue (STMR) values and processing factors corresponding to the GAP examined. FAO evaluations have been completed on around 200 different pesticides, and are published via the FAO web site. In addition to exhaustive initial evaluations or full re-evaluations conducted on a periodic basis, FAO evaluations also include specific efforts which might be focused on a single crop or small group of crops with new or revised GAPs.


Australia6: Two types of pesticide evaluations are published by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APMVA), formerly known as the National Regulatory Authority (NRA). Evaluations of selected existing products are completed as part of the Chemical Review Programme, and draft and/or final evaluation reports are available for around 50 pesticides. In addition, public release summaries associated with new pesticide approvals are available for about 75 active ingredients. The evaluation summaries sponsored by APVMA generally include consideration of both environmental and human health aspects and are often accompanied by a proposed or final regulatory decision.


Canada7: The Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) also publishes evaluation summaries for both existing product re-evaluations and new  product approvals. There are several types of published evaluations of existing products, including Proposed Acceptability for Continuing Registration (PACR), Re-evaluation Documents (REV) and Re-evaluation Decision Documents (RRD). The published documents typically include a technical summary and a proposed or final regulatory decision. Published documents for new active ingredients or significant new uses include Proposed Regulatory Decision Documents (PR DD), Regulatory Decision Documents (RDD) and Regulatory Notes

(REG). There are significant differences in the level of detail of these various documents, some being comprised of extensive technical summaries of toxicology, environmental and efficacy data and others being very brief notices summarising a final regulatory position or decision.


Europe8,9:  The 91/414 Plant Protection Directive of the European Commission created a centralised evaluation system for active substances and representative uses. Brief evaluation reports for existing active substances under comprehensive re-evaluation and for new active substances are available via the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate (DG Sanco). Evaluation reports for approximately 70 existing and 45 new active substances are posted on the web site of the European Commission. The evaluation reports typically include a summary of the proposed regulatory decision (i.e. positive or negative recommendation for Annex I listing as an approved active substance) and a detailed listing of relevant regulatory end-points. For existing products, a listing of studies which were relied upon for the evaluation and for which data protection is claimed by the notifier is also included.


Among other EU member states which publish national pesticide evaluations, the UK stands out as offering particularly useful and thorough technical documents. These evaluations are completed by the UK Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) for review by the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP). Approximately 200 evaluations have been published, mostly for existing active substances, which include detailed discussion of human health and environmental data and risk assessments10.


United States11: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made available extensive technical summaries of human health and environmental evaluations completed as part of the re-registration process during the past 20 years. The primary document is the Re-registration Eligibility Decision (RED) document, which may run to hundreds of pages and contains detailed data summaries and risk assessments, as well as recommended regulatory decisions. Shorter re-registration "fact sheets" are also available which offer a synopsis of key regulatory information and recommendations. More recently, interim RED documents (IRED) have also been published by EPA. The IRED is the equivalent of the RED but with the caveat that the molecule evaluated may be subject to cumulative evaluation at a future point under provisions of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). In addition, some tolerance RED documents have also been released, these are completed for those molecules not requiring a full re-registration evaluation (generally newer products approved after 1984) but which were subject to human health and residue chemistry evaluation as part of the tolerance re-evaluation process under FQPA. More than 275 RED, IRED, and TRED documents are available in electronic form via the EPA web site.

For some time U.S. EPA has also published chemical fact sheets for new active ingredients. These fact sheets are generally 5-10 or more page summaries of key regulatory properties, and approximately 50 of the more recently published ones are available on the EPA web site12.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture also publishes information on pesticides. These include human health and ecological risk assessments for about 20 pesticides used in forestry13, whilst the ARS Pesticide Properties Database focuses on the chemical properties of  over 300 pesticides linked to their transport and degradation14.


Non-governmental Organisations: There are several non-governmental organizations (NGO) which publish data compilations or technical summaries for pesticides. Perhaps the most widely known and referenced pesticide technical summaries are the Pesticide Information Profiles (PIP) published by the Extension Toxicology Network (EXTOXNET). The project is a joint effort of several U.S.-based institutions including the University of California, ­Davis, Oregon State University, Michigan State University, Cornell University and the University of Idaho. Approximately 200 pesticides have published PIPs on the EXTOXNET web site15, but many of the newest active ingredients are not included since funding problems were experienced by the project during the past 5-7 years. The PIPs are generally 5-10 page technical summaries of key properties including those related to human health and the environment.


A brief but comprehensive summary of pesticide formula, name, structure and activity can be found in the Compendium of Pesticide Common Names16. 


The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is part of a project operated by PAN North America. The pesticide database of technical information compiled by PAN via its web site17 is interesting, and for several hundred active ingredients includes summaries and links related to chemistry, poisoning symptoms, toxicology, environmental fate and ecotoxicology. In addition, some regulatory information is also included on each molecule such as hazard classification, countries of registration, restrictions or bans and international treaty listings (PlC, POP).






  1. FOOTPRINT Pesticide Properties Database


  1. FAO/IAEA Food Contaminant and Residues Information System


  1. IPCS INCHEM Pesticide Data Sheets


  1. IPCS INCHEM Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues, Monographs & Evaluations


  1. Food and Agriculture Organisation, GAP – JMPR Reports  & Evaluations


  1. Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, All Reviews (including superseded, discontinued and deregistered chemicals)


  1. Health Canada, Consumer Product Safety, Decisions and Updates


  1. European Commission, DG Health and Consumers, Plant Protection Products, Existing Active Substances, Decisions and Review Reports


  1. European Commission, DG Health and Consumers, Plant Protection Products, New Active Substances, Decisions and Review Reports


  1. UK Health and Safety Executive, Chemicals Regulation Directorate, Pesticides, Published Evaluation Documents


  1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Pesticides, Pesticide Registration Status


  1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Pesticides, Topical & Chemical fact Sheets, Specific Chemical Fact Sheets


  1. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Risk Assessments, Human Health & Ecological Risk Assessments


  1. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services, The ARS Pesticide Properties Database


  1. EXTOXNET, Pesticide Information Profiles (PIPs)


  1. Compendium of Pesticide Common Names


  1. Pesticide Action Network, PAN Pesticide Database





Last modified 2nd April 2010


Date added: 2010-05-10 01:31:36   
Last Updated 2010-05-10 04:51:12   
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