What we want
CHOICE firmly believes the onus should be on manufacturers to prove efficacy and safety, not on consumers to prove harm. We must take a precautionary approach for the sake of our health and the environment.
The regulation of chemicals in Australia needs an overhaul to ensure effective products reach the market while protecting the health and safety of consumers, workers and our environment.
CHOICE has a strong history of protecting consumer safety, and we’re determined to fight for a better system of checks and balances for safe chemical use.
Regulatory Review for chemicals used in food production, and in our homes and gardens and on our pets
The national regulatory framework for agricultural and veterinary chemicals is under review. We're currently writing a submission to the Product Safety and Integrity Committee (PSIC). You can now read a little about the review at the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry website here.
CHOICE wants to see a thorough shakeup that includes a complete restructure of the regulator the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. CHOICE wants to see it strengthened to become an independent statutory body, free from the influence of the chemicals industry.
In an earlier submission for the PSIC review, and in discussions with the review's consultants, these are the major things that we’re calling for:
- A new regulator with pre and post registration of chemicals administered within the same agency.
- Apply the precautionary principle. If banned in other major developed countries, chemicals should not be allowed in Australia.
- ‘No data, no market’ should apply to registrations, with firm cut-offs and stipulations on the sourcing and types of acceptable supporting data.
- Better labelling of chemicals. Labels should be approved for several years at a time only, and require updates. They should be clear, short and appropriate to users.
- Sunset registrations. Chemicals to receive a time-limited registration, of 10 years, after which their suitability is reviewed against modern science.
- Substitution of softer chemicals. Where new, effective, softer chemicals exist, then old chemicals should be withdrawn and replaced with these softer options.
- Remove the regulator’s funding collection role. Levies and oversight of global budget to be administered by the Department of Finance. Funding should be indexed to the rate of inflation.
Read CHOICE's submission here.
We’re not happy with the review so far, so in September 2009 we wrote to the Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke. We emphasized the need to have a precautionary approach to chemical and nanotechnology regulation and complained that the stakeholder engagement process is flawed:
- The timeframe for the review – over the summer holiday period – is unsatisfactory and will prevent meaningful stakeholder responses
- There is no website to show information about the review, its progress, and invite and display submissions.
- Insufficient effort is being made to reach the range of stakeholders, particularly in the community sector.
Read our letter in full here. Minister Burke has not yet responded to this letter.