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Use of farmer/ producer associations/ federations to form sentinel surveillance networks for adverse events in primary production


The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as author(s). This task has been carried out exclusively by the author(s) in the context of a contract between the European Food Safety Authority and the author(s), awarded following a tender procedure. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by the Authority. The European food Safety Authority reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.


This report represents the results of a feasibility study to investigate whether farmer/ producer associations/ federations can serve as sentinel surveillance networks for the detection of adverse events in the health of agricultural plants and animals and the safety of new agricultural products in primary production. Within this report sentinel methodology was defined as an active system with reporting units regularly reporting all cases with and without events. This methodology is restrictive, requires clear case and indicator definitions, and needs extensive management and effective tools. Adverse events and indicators for plant and animal health were compiled and it was noticed that clear case definitions and signal thresholds for events beyond well-known diseases or pests are often missing. It was found that in Europe almost all stages of primary production (from breeding to trade) and all main crops and species, as well as primary products are represented by associations or federations, providing a comprehensive coverage of primary production and a European-wide presence. Nevertheless, these organisations rarely have at their disposal adverse event or indicator data. Therefore, sentinel surveillance using existing data is not realisable. Consequently, it was concluded that a surveillance system using farmer/ producer associations requires the development of unambiguous indicator and adverse event case definitions, the implementation of additional data acquisition tools and the establishment of data management structures. Therefore a generic approach for a comprehensive adverse event reporting system was developed collecting agronomic indicator signals at farm level. The approach proposes several plant and animal health indicators, data acquisition tools and structures. To assess the ability of farmer/ producer organisations to form an adverse reporting system in terms of sensitivity and specificity, scenario trees considering crucial points such as representativeness of the farmer/ producer network, awareness of network members and sensitivity of agronomic indicators were developed.

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