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New Look for the NRA's Chemical Review Program

Media Release NRA 01/6 30 July 2001

The NRA's Chemical Review Program is set to become more streamlined and responsive to emerging problems as a result of a detailed study and re-evaluation undertaken in consultation with major stakeholders.

Describing one of the major changes, Dr Ron Eichner, Manager of the Chemical Review Program, said that by doing away with the system of grouping chemical reviews in cycles, the NRA will be able to more easily target its review efforts to areas where risks have been identified.

'By initiating reviews individually we are freeing up resources so that we can quickly move to focus on problems with chemicals as they arise,' Dr Eichner said.

'This comes about by combining the Existing Chemical Review Program (ECRP) and the Special Review Program into a single initiative that accommodates both comprehensive and targeted reviews.'

'The single program will have the capacity to initiate reviews within 28 days if there are major concerns over a chemical's safety,' Dr Eichner said.

'On the other hand, if the degree of urgency allows for longer lead-up times the NRA may initiate a review up to 3 years in advance. Foreshadowing reviews in advance would allow new scientific data to be generated, if necessary, and for the co-ordination with international regulatory activities, including exchange of review reports with other countries.'

'As part of the new review process the NRA will endeavour to undertake a detailed scoping study at the beginning of each review to establish an accurate picture of the way the chemical is used. This study will also identify any critical or contentious areas, data required to address known concerns and any concurrent international review activities,' Dr Eichner said.

Dr Eichner said that as part of the scoping study, input would be sought from chemical companies, State agricultural authorities and user groups to clearly establish how the chemical is used. Public consultation prior to final decisions being taken would still be an important part of the review process.

At its March 2001 Board meeting, the NRA Board endorsed the selection of the first two chemicals for review under the new program. The two chemicals selected are methamidophos and methidathion. These reviews will be widely publicised when they are formally commenced, with full details of their nature and extent made readily available.