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WA farmer fined for illegally importing unregistered herbicide

29 July 1999

ref: NRA 99/9

A Western Australia farmer has been convicted and fined $6600 for illegally importing an unregistered herbicide containing isoproturon.

Mr Phillip Patterson of Gnowangerup pleaded guilty in the Katanning Magistrates' Court to importing 250kg of an unregistered chemical product containing isoproturon, and was ordered to forfeit the product. The offence breached section 69B(1)(a) of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992.

The prosecution is the result of investigation and action by inspectors from the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA).

NRA Compliance and Quality Assurance Manager, Dr Joe Smith, said the NRA was concerned about the risks associated with importing unregistered chemical products and had acted swiftly.

Isoproturon is a herbicide developed for control of barley grass, silver grass, annual rye grass and a range of broadleaf weeds in wheat and barley crops.

"Currently it is not registered for use in Australia. There are concerns that isoproturon could represent a health hazard to those who may be exposed to it. This concern relates to the absence of information to address concerns about the carcinogenic potential of isoproturon in humans.

"While the NRA recognises the benefits that new agricultural chemicals can bring to agriculture, we are also obliged to ensure that any products which are registered do not pose unacceptable risks to the health of users. With isoproturon, genuine concerns remain in this regard," he said.

Dr Smith said chemical products must be registered by the NRA before they can be brought into Australia. "Of all groups in the community, farmers should be the first to understand and appreciate the importance of the registration system.

"Registration provides a stamp of security for them that the products have been scientifically evaluated to ensure they pose no unacceptable risk to human health, worker safety, the environment or trade, and work effectively."