Ban a ‘national disgrace’

Hills fruit growers Jim DelSimone, Anthony Caccetta, Steve Ghilarducci, Wilma Byl, Brett DelSimone and John Di Marco. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d427892
Hills fruit growers Jim DelSimone, Anthony Caccetta, Steve Ghilarducci, Wilma Byl, Brett DelSimone and John Di Marco. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d427892
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) banned the use of fenthion on fruit last week over concerns it posed environmental and public heath risks. 

It granted a 12-month phase-out period as recommended by a Senate inquiry.

Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) spokesman Brett DelSimone said WA fruit growers faced devastating commercial losses to fruit fly.

‘The APVMA’s arbitrary approach to science, Australia’s agricultural future and the damage it causes to primary producers is a national disgrace,’ he said.

‘The decision to ban fenthion took little notice of its safe record over decades of use in Australia.’

Mr DelSimone said Hills growers produced $40 million worth of fruit for Perth annually.

Efforts to develop an effective alternative to fenthion were in progress but a result was still two to three years away.

Mr DelSimone said the phase-out period was a lifeline and was thanks to efforts by HOIG, the Senate committee, Federal MPs and industry bodies such as Summerfruit Australia.

APVMA scientific assessment and chemical review executive director Raj Bhula said the final report outlined the reasons for the decision and took into account multiple public submissions.

She said it encompassed all risk assessments, including toxicology, food residues, worker exposure and environmental effects.

‘No additional information or scientific data was submitted for consideration (in the final consultation round) and following assessment of the submissions, the APVMA determined that the proposals put forward did not sufficiently reduce the risks,’ she said.

‘The potential removal of the use of fenthion on certain crops has been known to the agricultural industry for several years and the review has gone through many phases to allow the industry to generate and submit data to support the possible continued use of the chemical.’

The ban marks the end of a 16-year review process.

The APVMA began to introduce restrictions on fenthion use two years ago, at which point growers began to report widespread losses.

The Alliance for a Clean Environment welcomed the ban, saying Australia had been slow to act on the issue.