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Scare campaign on chemicals undermines strict regulations

16 June 2011

A scare campaign on the use of pesticides in Australian agriculture is misleading and does not tell the full story, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has said today.

“A campaign being run by various health and consumer groups is inaccurately claiming that Australia is using unsafe pesticides in food production,” NFF Vice-President Duncan Fraser said.

“This is completely false – agricultural chemicals available for sale in Australia are subject to a world-class scientific risk assessment by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) that regulates how and where these chemicals can be used.

“Pesticides are an important tool underpinning the productivity of many farming systems, and farmers carefully choose and apply chemicals to manage pests, weeds and diseases. This is governed by very strict APVMA regulations to protect the health of the community and the environment.

“Without agricultural chemicals, Australian productivity would fall significantly,” Mr Fraser said.

“The Federal Government has already committed to a review of the chemical assessment and regulation system in Australia, and this campaign is undermining this process by providing misleading and inaccurate information to the public.

“For instance, making simple statements that chemicals are banned elsewhere doesn’t take into account the fact that the chemicals used in Australia may not be appropriate for overseas farmers due to differences in pests, weeds and diseases, differences in production systems, and differences in environmental conditions. This is why a country-specific, science based system is required.

“The campaign isn’t comparing apples with apples, so consumers don’t get the real picture.

“The NFF and our members have been working with the Government throughout the reform process to ensure both Australian farmers and consumers can have complete confidence in the system.

“We believe it’s important that we maintain a chemical assessment and registration system through APVMA that is in line with global standards and best practices, while taking into consideration Australian needs and conditions – and we call on those running this misinformation campaign to stop trying to derail this process,” Mr Fraser said.

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