Plan to phase out fenthion

Fruit-growers have complained that fenthion restrictions have caused them devastating crop losses. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d421698
Fruit-growers have complained that fenthion restrictions have caused them devastating crop losses. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d421698

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

It now proposes to ban almost 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, according to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

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 said the problem was a complex and long-term one.

It outlined evidence received from industry, APVMA and government representatives, and examined all fruit fly control options.

It said the APVMA could not consider economic factors when making decisions, though it understood this frustrated 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), which was released in 2008 but never properly funded or co-ordinated.

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

The Senate report and detailed recommendations can be viewed at tinyurl.com/lwhg7b2.

The APVMA report is open for submissions until August 22, at tinyurl.com/ph6xms8.