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228 AGRICULTURAL COHORT CONSORTIUM
Disease incidence and mortality patterns in agricultural populations differ from those in the general population for a number of conditions, including cancer, reproductive outcomes, injuries and cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory, kidney and allergic diseases. These differences may be related to unique exposures, such as pesticides, solvents, engine exhaust, biologically active dusts and zoonotic microbes or to different exposure patterns for common factors, such as tobacco, alcohol, diet and physical activity. In September 2006, investigators from several agricultural cohort studies and other interested scientists met to consider developing a consortium of agricultural cohort studies. Such a consortium could stimulate research and fill gaps in knowledge not possible with any individual study.
We identified active cohorts that had primary hypotheses related to agricultural exposures or populations. Investigators from each cohort were invited to attend a 2-day consortium planning meeting. A general overview of each cohort was given, as well as summaries and discussion of some of the research areas where collaboration might be especially advantageous.
Twelve cohorts were represented, which include more than 1.3 million study participants. There was heterogeneity in size of studies (range: 335–560 000), exposure information available, primary outcomes considered, type of follow-up, and number and type of biological samples. Despite these differences and other challenges to collaboration, there appear to be a number of opportunities where research could benefit from a consortium, including pooling data for the study of agricultural exposures and rare diseases and evaluating exposure–exposure and gene–exposure interactions for more common diseases. A number of items requiring action were identified, including identifying other potential cohorts for inclusion, developing common definitions of farming and agriculture, further characterising biological specimen collection and storage procedures, collecting more detailed information on disease outcomes and developing a portal or other mechanism to facilitate sharing of information within the group.
A consortium of agricultural …