Proposal for phase-out

Decision looms on fenthion
Decision looms on fenthion

While reviewing fenthion over the past two years because of potential human health risks, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) imposed restrictions on its use.

It now proposes to ban virtually all uses of fenthion, for which there is no chemical replacement.

More than three-quarters of Australian fruit and vegetable exports ” valued at $640 million in 2012-13 ” are vulnerable to fruit fly, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has noted.

Hills and Swan Valley fruit growers say fenthion restrictions have caused devastating losses, and have pleaded for a transition period, instead of outright ban.

The Senate committee was appointed last December to investigate the impact of the restrictions across Australia.

It has collected submissions, held public hearings in Perth and South Australia, and visited Hills orchards.

Its report says that the problem is a complex and long-term one.

It outlines evidence received from industry, APVMA and government representatives, and examines all fruit fly control options. It explains APVMA processes, saying that the APVMA cannot consider economic factors when making decisions, though it understands this frustrates those relying on crops for their livelihoods.

Its recommendations concern confusion over chemical regulation processes, and the problems that abandoned, infested orchards cause for their neighbours and regions. Recommendations also concern the National Fruit Fly Strategy (NFFS), released in 2008, but never properly funded or coordinated.

The Federal Government will consider the report, but has no official power to influence the APVMA, which is preparing to make its final decision.

– Senate report and detailed recommendations are at aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Fenthion/Report/index

– APVMA report is open for submissions until August 22, available at apvma.|gov.au/sites/default/files/fenthion-phase-7-prf-part2.pdf