Pesticide ban angers Hills fruit growers

Peach growers at Spring Hill Orchard are angered by the ban of fruit fly pesticide, fenthion.
Peach growers at Spring Hill Orchard are angered by the ban of fruit fly pesticide, fenthion.

Many struggled with infestation last season, reporting severe crop losses to the pest even with the reduced spray regime in place, while scientific reviews of chemical residues took place.

Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) spokesman Brett DelSimone said he believed Australian peach and apricot production would soon end.

He questioned the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) decision, based on data from the point of harvest.

‘Fenthion breaks down rapidly once harvested in natural conditions and the time lapse from harvest to packaging, to wholesale, to point of sale allows for large decreases in residue ” something the APVMA has failed to take into account,’ he said.

The group’s report on trials it conducted for the reviews showed the local industry’s usage kept residue levels below the allowable limit.

Members believe in phasing out fenthion, but argue chemical-free options alone are not yet effective enough to protect their livelihoods.

Mr DelSimone said the APVMA did not deal with all parties that submitted data fairly.

An APVMA spokeswoman said the organisation used information from the point of harvest because people living or working on or near orchards might eat fruit at that point.

She said the decision was based on all the data provided, using internationally accepted best-practice ways of assessing health risks based on both a chemical’s toxicity and how much of it people were exposed to.

‘The APVMA provided advice to all parties about the data requirements for the review,’ she said.

‘While the fenthion review is still in progress anybody can submit new scientifically valid data.’

She said fenthion was not registered for use on food-producing plants in the European Union, USA, Canada or New Zealand.