Ban sparks fear for the future of local orchards

Perth Hills fruit growers Tony Marchetti and Michael Padula.
Perth Hills fruit growers Tony Marchetti and Michael Padula.

The fruit growers fear their orchards, along with their livelihoods, will be destroyed when the extension of the banned insecticide used to control fruit fly expires in WA this October.

Last September, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (Agvet) announced fenthion use would be suspended, but offered a 12 month extension to WA orchardists.

The Agvet chemical regulator recently came under scrutiny when the Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) employed an independent chemist, who found residue levels were within the national allowable levels.

Mr Cobb said if the Liberal Party was elected, there would be less red-tape when it came to use of insecticides and he would ensure the orchardists’ concerns were taken on board.

When questioned if the Federal Government were even aware of the need to use fenthion in WA due to the climate and conditions, he said ‘more communication’ was needed.

Among Mr Cobb’s suggestions were getting rid of compulsory re-registration of chemicals, increasing profit margins through better market access and a review into the power of supermarkets.

Third generation stone fruit grower Michael Padula said if fenthion was banned in WA it would have dire consequences.

‘We battle to control fruit flies with the pesticide,’ Mr Padula said. ‘If we don’t have the chemical we’re in a lot of trouble.’

HOIG spokesman Brett DelSimone said research involving breeding a lethal gene into fruit fly, which kills off the female’s offspring, was being looked into, but it was still in the very early stages.