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The Wrong Formulation of an Agricultural Chemical Proves Costly

NRA 00/15 4 December 2000

Agricultural chemical supplier 4 Farmers Pty Ltd has been found guilty in a Perth Court of supplying an agricultural chemical product that contained chemicals not specified for the registered formulation. Subsequent use of the product resulted in substantial damage to lupin crops. The Court imposed a fine of $10,000 and also ordered 4 Farmers to pay court costs.

The prosecution follows an investigation by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA).

The NRA's Head of Compliance, Stephen McDonald, said that the company had sold a herbicide clearly labeled as metribuzin, to be used for weed control in lupin crops. However the product purchased actually contained a quantity of another chemical herbicide, chlorsulfuron, which can damage lupin crops and is obviously not registered for use on them.

'A farmer has the right to expect that the product purchased will actually be what the label says it is,' Mr McDonald said.

'The law holds the chemical supplier responsible for the products they sell.'

'In this case the mixture supplied by 4 Farmers resulted in crop damage with the farmers returning to find dying crops where they expected to see flourishing ones,' Mr McDonald said.

'This conviction should highlight for all agricultural and veterinary chemical suppliers, the importance of giving the highest priority to quality control,' Mr McDonald said.

The National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA), is the government statutory authority responsible for the regulation of supply of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical products into the Australian marketplace.

More Information

Stephen McDonald on 02 6272 4298 or Dennis O'Leary on 02 6272 3797

Backgrounder

The National Registration Authority's Quality Assurance and Compliance Program

The National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA) regulates the supply of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical products into the Australian marketplace. Before an agvet chemical product can be supplied or used in Australia it must first be registered with the NRA. Registration entails rigorous scientific evaluation to ensure that the agvet chemical product is safe and effective and will not result in environmental damage or jeopardise our trade. The NRA also approves all labels that must appear on registered products.

The NRA is required by law to ensure that agvet chemical products in the marketplace are supplied in line with the provisions of Australia's Agvet Code ( the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994). It seeks to meet this requirement through its Quality Assurance and Compliance Program.

The Program aims at preventing the use of unregistered products by

    • promoting a greater awareness and understanding of registration and compliance requirements

    • investigating alleged breaches of the legislation

    • publishing a wide range of standards and guidelines, such as the registration guidelines, the product labeling code and product recall guidelines

Compliance assures the user that the products are safe and effective when used as directed and gives the supplier confidence in the products being offered for sale.

When cases of non-compliance have been identified, the NRA first checks the validity of the claim. If a breach is confirmed the NRA may apply one or a combination of enforcement strategies. These may include warnings, requests/directives for product recall/re-labeling or prosecution.

The breach may be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) where it

    • poses a hazard to the safety or welfare of humans, animals or the environment or may jeopardise trade, or

    • the company or individual has failed to respond positively to NRA directives.

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