In 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a guidance document which outlined opportunities where non-laboratory testing methods, for example in silico models, may be considered to address plant protection product (PPP) data requirements, specifically those related to pesticide metabolites . We recognised this as an opportunity to establish the utility of quantitative structural activity relationship models (QSARs) in predicting acute fish toxicity of pesticide metabolites, with the aim of increasing industry and regulatory engagement with this type of approach.
The analysis demonstrated that QSARs have potential to be utilised in the future to predict whether pesticide metabolites are acutely toxic to fish. The application of such a model by the agrochemical industry could ultimately lead to a decrease in the number of fish acute toxicity studies that are carried out to meet regulatory requirements, saving up to 1,800 fish per year across Europe.
EFSA 2013. Guidance on tiered risk assessment for plant protection products for aquatic organisms in edge-of-field surface waters. EFSA Journal;11(7):3290. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3290.
Burden N et al. (2016). The utility of QSARs in predicting acute fish toxicity of pesticide metabolites: A retrospective validation approach. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 80:241-246. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2016.05.032