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Suspected supply and use of prohibited chemicals in Victorian grape industry

Unregistered plant hormones are suspected of being widely used in the grape growing industry in the Mildura, Euston and Robinvale regions of Victoria. The chemicals are used to increase the size of grapes and contain the active constituents forchlorfenuron and gibberellic acid.

According to Mr Stephen McDonald, Compliance Manager for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the APVMA is currently conducting extensive investigations into the suspected supply and use of illegal plant growth regulators in these Victorian regions.

'Our inquiries come in response to a number of reports we have received that unregistered growth regulators are being used in the grape industry in these areas. We are very active in ensuring that the law is obeyed for the benefit of Australian agricultural producers and the general public' Mr McDonald said

'It is in the grape growers' interest to only use registered growth regulators on their crops. That way they can have confidence in the reliability, efficacy and safety of the chemical product because it has been scientifically evaluated as part of the APVMA's registration process.'

'Unregistered chemical products with unapproved or incomplete dosage and application rates pose a very real risk to farmers and consumers due to potential residue problems in food and crop failures resulting from poorly performing products,' Mr McDonald said.

'Consumers quite naturally expect that any chemicals used on food crops have been properly assessed and approved,' he said.

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) conducts an annual produce monitoring program and has advised that it is exploring the possibility of testing table grapes for these compounds.

The APVMA is offering growers and distributors the opportunity to hand in or return any unregistered growth promotant products in their possession. This will allow people involved in the grape industry to ensure all products applied to crops meet the requirements of the law. Further details may be obtained by contacting the APVMA on 02 6272 3418 or DPI on 03 5430 4416.

The APVMA is the Commonwealth government statutory authority with the legislative responsibility for regulating the importation, manufacture, supply and promotion of agricultural and veterinary chemical products within Australia. (Website - www.apvma.gov.au)

The law requires that all agricultural and veterinary chemical products be registered by the APVMA before they can be imported, supplied, sold or used within Australia.

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