Growers welcome pesticide inquiry

Growers reported unsustainable crop losses after a federal authority restricted the use of fruit-fly killer fenthion over health concerns.

The WA Government has declared several areas infested, including the Swan, Mundaring, Kalamunda, Gosnells, Armadale and Serpentine-Jarrahdale council areas and land from Carnarvon to Bunbury.

It has championed an alternative fruit-fly control method, area wide management, which relies on rigorous baiting, trapping and orchard hygiene.

Growers fear this method will not be effective by the time the federal body hands down a final decision on fenthion next year, because area wide management relies on the vigilance of backyard growers as well as commercial operators.

‘That may be too late for us,’ Hills Orchard Improvement Group spokesman Brett DelSimone said.

He said the inquiry announcement was ‘fantastic’ and if it proved as effective as anticipated, might lead to an inquiry into the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

‘This is a huge coup for a group of our size and the product of some hard work and smart lobbying,’ he said.

The Senate committee will report by June 25 on state and federal agencies’ roles in regulating pesticides; impacts on industry; the effectiveness of other chemicals on fruit fly; and transition arrangements after the fenthion bans, including area wide management.

Submissions close on January 28.