In June 2022, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the department) conducted an open tender process and commissioned the Australian Environment Agency Pty Ltd (AEA) to undertake research on sources of agricultural and veterinary (Agvet) chemicals monitoring data in Australia.
The final report was submitted to the department in October 2022.
The AEA report considered:
- current data sources
- gaps in available data
- future monitoring requirements.
The AEA report examined and catalogued public and privately held data sources on agvet chemical use in Australia, such as state and territory governments, industry monitoring programs and academic research.
The department is responsible for national policy on agvet chemicals and is exploring ways to improve its access to and understanding of data on the use and fate of agvet chemicals, and to examine ways that modern data technologies can be used to interpret this data.
The AEA report aimed to identify any data sources that could enhance our understanding or provide a basis for any further national co-ordination. It is preliminary work to explore the current state of data and see which data sets, if any, would be useful to examine in more detail.
The AEA report identified 48 data sources that were able to be accessed and assessed for reliability, relevance and representativeness.
The AEA report found:
- produce monitoring data from the National Residue Survey and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand 25th Australian Diet Survey are of high quality and provide significant information about agvet chemicals residues in agricultural produce
- industry run programs could also supplement these sources but were not available for detailed assessment in this project.
The report identified challenges in other areas:
- gaps in human biomonitoring data, veterinary medicines data outside residues analysis in meat products, and some areas of environmental monitoring
- while there have been a significant number of environmental monitoring programs for agvet chemicals over the past 20 years, most only ran for a short period of time or in a small geographic area
- environmental monitoring often identifies legacy chemicals that have not been used in a long time rather than chemicals currently in use, and it can be difficult to link monitoring results to current use patterns.
As a starting point for further work in this area, the AEA report recommended the department:
- undertake a more detailed analysis of the identified monitoring information
- consider future monitoring delivery and reporting systems
- consider future environmental surveillance options and technologies, including near real-time sensor measurement of off-target environmental impacts as potential options.
The department will use the report findings to inform future policy work to improve the agvet chemicals regulatory system.
The Australian Environment Agency Pty Ltd reissued Sources of AgVet Data (Monitoring) in Australia on 30 May 2023 to update information related to the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program. More information about the changes can be found on the inside front cover of the updated report.
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