Key horticultural industries are stepping up the pressure for a better deal on minor use pesticides. Currently, horticulture producers are stymied by an inefficient pesticide regulation system that they say is inequitous.
“The system is long overdue for an overhaul,” said Dr Stephen Goodwin, the coordinator of a submission endorsed by nursery and garden, strawberry, protected cropping, mushroom, banana, herb and spice and new rural industries, plus CropLife, the association representing chemical manufacturers. They have lodged a comprehensive submission detailing reforms to deliver sustainable minor use crop protection solutions for Australia’s agricultural industries with the Federal Government’s Product Safety & Integrity Committee.
“Under the current Agvet Code, minor use industries have had to make do with temporary permits to gain legal access to many new pesticides and pesticide uses requiring renewal every 2-5 years. The cost of this is borne by the end user or producer, rather than the chemical company,” said Dr Goodwin.
“This is all down to the fact that minor uses do not make sufficient money for chemical manufacturers to warrant the expenditure on registration,” he added.
Dr Goodwin said that horticulture falls into this category because it is made up of a large number of small industries. Despite horticulture as a whole being the third largest Australian agricultural producer with an annual farm gate value at $8 billion, behind only meat and grains, individual commodities have their own pest and disease issues that need to be effectively managed in a sustainable way.
“The current permit system places them at a distinct disadvantage and affects their competitiveness,” said Dr Goodwin.
The horticultural industry’s minor use submission contains a proposal for a new national crop protection program that will make a significant contribution to the pesticide regulatory review to develop a single, national regulatory framework for Agvet chemicals. The proposal is based on the Canadian minor use and pesticide risk reduction programs introduced following similar industry representations prior to 2003.
The Canadian government, under the Federal Agricultural Regulatory Action Plan, provides significant funding on a 5-year cycle to assist the national regulator, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, to enhance its capacity and improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Funding is also provided to the national research body Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to undertake research trials to develop essential data to assist risk assessment. In excess of $CAN55 million has been provided for the period 2008-13. This follows the pioneering US IR-4 program introduced in 1963, and is accompanied by moves by the EU to introduce similar government funding for a minor use program in Europe.
“The tragedy and destruction wrought by a range of natural disasters hitting Australia in recent months make it an inopportune time to be seeking Federal funding in Australia, however, there can be no greater concern for consumers than food security,” Dr Goodwin highlighted.
“Producers and consumers alike will expect the current pesticide regulatory reform proposed by horticulture to be given the highest priority to restore producer competitiveness and guarantee continuing supply of high quality fresh farm produce that Australian consumers have come to expect,” said Dr Goodwin.
For further information contact: Dr Stephen Goodwin, Biocontrol Solutions
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