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How does the Portal source product information?

Theme: Regulation and data

Overview

Introduction

The CABI BioProtection Portal provides product information on government registered biopesticides and biocontrol agents. This information is sourced directly from government websites or officials, and compiled in a way that is clear and accessible to growers and advisors. Here we discuss the 5 steps in the data acquisition process, from the early stages of selecting a new country to the final stage of refreshing product data on the Portal. We also discuss how macrobial registration differs from country to country, and how this affects the product count for each country on the Portal.

What steps do we take to acquire product data?

1. Selecting the country

The country we decide to focus on next is based on several factors, including:

  • Countries of interest put forward by our Development Consortium members
  • Countries supported by PlantwisePlus, our parent programme
  • Countries where there is high market potential for biological products in agriculture
  • Countries in which CABI already has pre-existing government and national stakeholder contacts
  • Countries that are already CABI member countries

2. Getting permission

CABI contacts the government authority responsible for registering plant protection products (PPPs) in the country of interest, which is often the Department of Agriculture or a subdivision thereof. We then request permission to use the product information present on their national registry. This will include chemical as well as biopesticide products and, on occasions, macrobials (aka invertebrate biocontrol agents). Although this data is usually available to the public, requesting permission creates a useful channel with the local government for any ongoing communications. In addition, it increases visibility of the Portal at government level, creating opportunities for government to encourage uptake of biologicals in their country by promoting the tool.

To be as transparent as possible about where our data comes from, links to the authority websites are always displayed on the search results page and product pages.

CABI BioProtection Portal staff make contact with the relevant government authority, for example, in Canada this is Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

3. Acquiring data

Once permission is granted, CABI staff go through the country’s register of permitted PPPs. If biological products are not listed separately from the traditional chemical pesticides, staff pick out the products that qualify as “biological”. To determine what qualifies as a biological product, we follow the regulations of the individual countries whenever possible. Some countries may consider a product as biological while others do not. In cases where “biological” is not defined by a country, we follow our own definitions. This includes predatory insects and mites, as well as products based on microbials, natural substances, and semiochemicals with low environmental risk.  

The following data is collected from the government register and appropriate PPP labels, and put into a master spreadsheet: 

  • PPP registered tradename 
  • active ingredient(s) 
  • registration holder 
  • registration number 
  • target crop(s) as per label 
  • target pest(s) as per label 

Additional information is collected for products that are associated with Portal Partners, i.e. manufacturers and distributors that have signed a partnership agreement. This includes: 

  • distributor contact information 
  • label  
  • product factsheet 
  • safety datasheet 
  • storage requirements 

In some countries, macrobial agents and/or products do not fall under PPP regulation and therefore do not require registration as per PPPs. When this occurs macrobial product information is not readily available for us to source from government registers. This is explained in more detail in the last section of this article. 

Schematic of the transfer of bioprotection product data from the government registry to the Portal database
Product information is sourced from government registries, where we pick out the bioprotection products and add them to our data management system.

4. Uploading data

Once the country data is appropriately formatted and quality checked, it is uploaded to our Data Management System (DMS). The DMS allows the product information to be displayed on the Portal for users. This process can take a variable amount of time depending on the size of the dataset. For countries with larger datasets, such as India, the data might be uploaded and set to live in batches. 

5. Updating data

Country data is refreshed according to a priority ranking of 1, 2, or 3.  

  • Priority 1 countries are updated every 2-3 months 
  • Priority 2 countries are updated twice a year 
  • Priority 3 countries are updated once a year 

Priority ranking is based on a combination of market size and frequency of updates from the respective government. On each product page, there is a date stamp of when the last update took place.  

Portal data is updated at regular intervals that vary from country to country.

Country differences in macrobial registration

Some countries require registration of macrobial products and this data might appear within the same register as the biological PPPs. However, in some countries, there is no requirement to register macrobial products in order to sell them, particularly if the macrobial agent is on a predefined list of invertebrates exempt from registration. This means that macrobial product tradenames are sometimes not on the national registry and therefore not available for us to directly source and add to the Portal.  

In the USA, if a macrobial biocontrol product contains an invertebrate on a predefined list from USDA APHIS then they do not require product registration as per PPPs. This means that the macrobial tradename will not appear on a Federal register and therefore not be accessible to the Portal. In Spain, on the other hand, there is a register of macrobial products from MAPA, the agricultural regulatory authority, which means the Portal can source and show macrobial products quite easily. For this reason, the global number of products in Spain (799) appears larger than those in the USA (663) on the product map, even though the market for biologicals is much larger in the USA compared to Spain. 

In some countries, even when a macrobial tradename register does not exist, we still show permitted macrobial products sold or distributed by our Portal Partners. This is because the partner provides us with the required information to get their products into the system, including product labels and technical factsheets, so we can give users this additional information.  

Countries that have a register of macrobial product tradenames include: 

  • Spain  
  • Kenya 
  • Chile  
  • Costa Rica 
  • Brazil  
  • Colombia  
  • Hungary  

Countries that do not have a register of macrobial product tradenames include: 

  • USA 
  • Mexico  
  • UK 
  • Australia  
  • New Zealand 
  • Indonesia  
  • India  
Macrobial biocontrol agent eating whitefly pests
A predatory insect (Orius insidiosus) feeding on whitefly nymphs. Credit: Jack Dykinga via Wikipedia commons.

Conclusion/TLDR

The Portal takes the following steps to gather and present information on plant protection products (PPPs):

  • Select a country and obtain authorization from its regulatory authority.
  • Extract data from the PPP register, including tradename and active ingredients.
  • Upload data to our data management system, and then set to live.
  • Update data at regular intervals, with frequency depending on the country.

Unlike other bioprotection products, the inclusion of macrobials on the Portal varies by country. The Portal contains macrobials for countries where macrobial registration is required. In countries where macrobial registration is not required, the Portal only contains Partner macrobials, as this information is supplied directly from our Partners.  

Illustration showing different types of bioprotection products: macrobials, natural substances, and semiochemicals
Three types of biocontrol (from left to right: macrobials, natural substances, semiochemicals). Illustration by Fanny Deiss.

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