The crop groupings project

What is crop grouping?

For the purpose of scientific assessment and regulation, crops are usually grouped through similarities in their botanical classification, morphology, growth habit, the portion of the commodity harvested and/or consumed, and cultural practices. This is a common practice among international regulators and is used to streamline the establishment of data guidelines and regulatory risk assessment.

This scientifically based mechanism recognises that data need not always be necessary for all situations and that data and assessments can be equally applied to similar situations.

It is particularly important for minor crops because the data generated to register a chemical for a major crop use can be extrapolated to include uses on other minor crops in the same group—without the need for data for each crop in the group.

Crop grouping schemes, once established, enable formal recognition of data generated in a subset of crops to be extrapolated to other related crops of the same crop group with little or no additional data (or assessment) required.

Crop grouping gives growers better access to chemicals for minor crops without the need to get a permit as, in many cases, minor crops can be included on the label. In addition, the cost to industry is reduced by removing the need to generate data across multiple crops within the same crop group.

There are around 25 specific crop groups and each crop group is underpinned by a select number of ‘representative crops’. Crop group types include pome fruit, stone fruit, citrus, brassica vegetables, leafy vegetables, root and tuber vegetables, herbs and spices, oilseeds, pulses, and legume vegetables.

For residue purposes these ‘representative crops’ are typically those which are:

  • most likely to contain the highest residues
  • major in terms of production and/or consumption, and
  • similar in morphology, growth habit, pest problems and edible portion to those other commodities within the group.

APVMA residue guidelines already contain crop groups and representative commodities which details the number of trials required from each representative commodity and what alterations (reductions) are possible when seeking to register a crop group. However, apart from the Codex Classification, the APVMA does not have a recognised, publicly available list of crop groups and their individual crops.

The lack of a list has presented problems for crops that are not recognised by the Codex classification and also from a label interpretation perspective, enhancing consistency in label terminology, and maintaining the linkage between the crops approved and corresponding MRLs established.

The drafted tables of crop groups and their individual commodities are based upon both the current Codex classification, its ongoing revision, and crop groups published by other regulators such as US EPA.

The project

The project focus is to improve access to chemical products for use on minor crops by streamlining registration requirements.

This project will be delivered in two phases:

  • Finalise the establishment of an official Australian crop groups list, and the individual crops which form these groups.
  • Review and update data guidelines to identify representative crops from each group which can be used to generate acceptable data for safety, efficacy and trade criteria.

Phase one

Through an industry and community consultation process the APVMA has developed a list of crops and classified them into crop groups for use by applicants as part of the chemical registration process.  The concept of crop grouping and how it is used in product registration is explained below.

Submissions received for phase one of the consultation process are available here.

Phase two

The second phase of this project will establish key representative commodities in each crop group from which data can be accepted for extrapolation to related (minor) commodities.

This will take into consideration extrapolation principles acceptable for enabling satisfaction of regulatory risk assessments for registration and minor use permit purposes against the safety, efficacy and trade criteria.

Consultation on this second phase and proposed representative commodities will occur in the first half of 2016.

Current crop classification system

The APVMA and industry already use the international commodity group classification system managed by Codex—for more information see below.

This project will develop an official Australian list for use as a registration tool which, when operational, will expand the number of crop uses covered by a chemical product label.

This means that when data is provided for use on major crops it will be possible to include uses for minor crops within the same crop group on the label, and make it easier for farmers and growers to access the chemicals they need. This will potentially reduce the number of times user industries may otherwise need to seek a minor use permit.

Codex classification review

A review of the Codex classification is currently underway and more minor crops are being added largely as a result of the work of the International Crop Grouping Consulting Committee (ICGCC) convened by the United States IR-4 Project.

Australia is contributing to both the revision of the Codex classification and the work of the ICGCC. Other regulators, such as the United States Environment Protection Authority, have formalised crop grouping tables.  These identify representative crops for which data can be submitted to support registration of uses for an entire crop group.



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