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APVMA to Review the Registration of the Agricultural Fungicide, Benomyl

October 2003

The national regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), is to review the registration status of the agricultural fungicide, benomyl. The review comes in response to preliminary advice from the APVMA's expert health advisers.

APVMA Principal Scientist, Dr David Loschke, said 'The review will focus on worker exposure to the chemical and we will be asking our occupational health and safety and human health experts for advice based on the analysis of detailed scientific information on the chemical and its use'.

'The health advice from the Office of Chemical Safety in the Department of Health and Aging links benomyl to more demanding health standards than were used when the products were first registered. In view of these new standards, the APVMA needs to confirm that there is an adequate margin of safety for workers using the chemical,' Dr Loschke said.

'The advice also makes it clear that there are no concerns with residues of benomyl in food and therefore, there are no public health risks involved,' he said.

'There have been reports from laboratory tests of adverse effects on the reproduction and development of test animals exposed to very high levels of the chemical.'

'These tests involved an extreme situation with laboratory animals exposed to a level of the chemical hundreds of times higher than a person is ever likely to experience. What's more, this fungicide has been widely used in Australia for more that 35 years without any reported problems,' Dr Loschke said.

'Nonetheless, people's health is the crucial priority for us. We have decided to employ a cautious strategy with the chemical and will review its continuing registration.'

'Also as part of our strategy we will halt further manufacture of the product until the review is completed. We will require additional safety information to be provided with existing stocks at retail outlets.' Dr Loschke said.

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