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Company fined after incorrect claims about using insecticide

NRA 99/19 24 December 1999

A Queensland stock and station agent, whose consultants recommended that farmers use an insecticide against a pest for which the product is not registered in Queensland, was prosecuted for breaching the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code (the Agvet Code) this month.

This is the first prosecution brought by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA) against a company for making claims inconsistent with the instructions on an approved chemical product label. The Queensland Department of Primary Industry (QDPI) referred the matter to the NRA.

The company claimed that Dominex 100 EC Insecticide could be used to control armyworm in wheat. The insecticide has not been approved for this use in Queensland.

"It is illegal to use a product for a purpose other than that indicated on the NRA-approved label unless a permit has been granted to authorise a particular use," NRA Head of Surveillance and Enforcement, Stephen McDonald, said. "Illegal off-label uses may lead to problems such as ineffective control and increasing resistance, to environmental damage or may pose a threat to human health.

"The practice of consultants recommending off-label uses concerns both Queensland DPI and the NRA," he said. "The outcome highlights the need for consultants to provide advice in line with legislation."

During the NRA's investigation, contract sprayers also raised concerns that they were being pressured into accepting work that was inconsistent with the approved label and were themselves risking prosecution.

"The NRA is actively investigating alleged breaches of the Agvet Code," Mr McDonald said, "and will take offenders to court. This is the 10th successful prosecution by the NRA this year for breaches of the Code, with offences including illegal use and illegal importation of chemical products."

The NRA is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Code on agricultural and veterinary chemical products up to and including the point of retail sale. Its National Compliance Program seeks to ensure that these responsibilities are met and that all products on the Australian market satisfy registration requirements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code (the Agvet Code), related legislation and regulations.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined. No conviction was recorded.