More than 80 chemicals and pesticides no longer registered for use in Europe are available for every day agricultural and veterinary use in Australia. If that’s not alarming enough, about 75% were included in our current system 15 years ago as a legacy from previous decades. Some were registered for use back in the 1950s and have not been subjected to a modern safety assessment. See our 2009 investigation on hazardous pesticides for more.
CHOICE members list chemicals and pesticides amongst their major concerns. They are telling us it’s time for a more effective system of chemical and pesticide approval in Australia and we agree. The Australian government is now looking closely at the issue with a view to action.
As a result of CHOICE's work with a number of organisations to develop the Declaration for Safer Australian Pesticide Laws, we are supporting the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) petition to the Australian Government for better regulation of chemicals and pesticides in this country. In addition, CHOICE has also sent a submission to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, supporting a National Scheme for the Assessment, Registration and Control of Use of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.
At CHOICE, we understand the need for chemicals to produce high quality food for a large population. However, those that don’t meet modern safety standards are potentially a risk to our health and the environment. Farmers have told us about their first-hand experience of the impact of harsh chemicals on their land and on their families.
The Australian Government has promised a reformed national system for regulating all agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals in Australia, including a review of all chemicals currently on the market and a risk-based framework for periodic re-registration.
CHOICE supports a comprehensive, risk-based chemicals framework. This will make the system more efficient and robust, requiring higher standards for high-risk chemicals, while allowing industry and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to use limited resources more effectively.
CHOICE wants this risk-based framework to promote a clear pathway for new softer chemicals to come into the market and the removal of old hazardous chemicals from the market.
CHOICE supports clear legislated timeframes for the completion of assessments and reviews, with these also based on risk. This will provide certainty to business and the community about review periods. As well as clear timeframes, the regulator needs additional tools, including the capacity to invoke the precautionary principle where a risk to life or health exists but scientific uncertainty persists.
If, like CHOICE, you want to see safer chemicals and pesticides in Australia, we urge you to join us in supporting the WWF petition by signing up now.