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Does the APVMA have a list of banned chemicals?

4 May 2010

No. At a community level people often talk about an agricultural or veterinary chemical as being either banned or permitted. The impression typically created is that chemical regulation is a simple process with black and white outcomes. The actual picture is much different, with many shades of grey.

For example, at the Commonwealth level in Australia agricultural or veterinary chemical may occupy one of many potential classifications.

  1. Registered, with limited controls on use
  2. Registered but with very significant controls on what it can be used on and/or who is authorised to use it
  3. Unregistered because no application for registration has been made
  4. Unregistered but available on permit
  5. Unregistered because the data required for registration approval have not been supplied
  6. De-registered because it would be difficult to mitigate possible risks associated with the use of the chemical, but it could potentially be re-submitted if new information became available
  7. Unable to be registered because of national policy exclusions
  8. De-registered because registrations are prohibited by international treaty such as the Stockholm Convention
  9. De-registered at the request of the registrant (eg. for commercial reasons)

In Australia, state and territory authorities also have regulatory powers over agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The classifications for chemicals that apply in these jurisdictions are broadly consistent with those that apply at the Commonwealth level.

For chemicals that are not currently registered, few of these classifications - at either the state or Commonwealth level - entirely satisfy popular definitions of the word ‘banned’. The closest would be either those chemicals de-registered because of international treaties and/or excluded because of national policy requirements. Even in these cases there are shades of grey. Some chemicals proscribed under international treaty, for example, may continue to be used under exemption provisions.

The regulatory systems of other countries are similarly complex. In the European Union, for example, chemicals that groups sometimes claim to be ‘banned’ are, in fact, not currently registered because specific information required for registration has not been supplied or they have been withdrawn by manufacturers for commercial reasons.

For these reasons ‘banned’ is not an accurate word, is misleading in almost all cases, and is rarely used by national regulators including Australia.

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