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Major changes proposed for widely used agricultural chemical

Media release 0402 April 2004

The national regulator of pesticides and veterinary medicines, the APVMA, is proposing some major changes to the way the agricultural insecticide, fenitrothion, is used. These recommendations are contained in a draft report of the review of the use of fenitrothion that is now available for public comment.

APVMA Principal Scientist, Dr David Loschke, said that the review was undertaken because of concerns arising from possible residues of the chemical in food. 'The APVMA was also concerned about safety to workers applying the chemical especially with hand-held and ground base applications and possible harm to the environment, including birds and aquatic animals' Dr Loschke said.

'Protecting public health, workers and the environment are major priorities for the APVMA' Dr Loschke said.

The draft review report concludes that, by making a number of changes to label instructions, including the removal of some use-patterns, the potential risks associated with the use of fenitrothion would be effectively managed.

'The APVMA is confident that the proposed changes to the use of fenitrothion will address the health and environmental risks that have been identified', Dr Loschke said.

By tightening its regulatory requirements, the APVMA has been able to retain a number of important agricultural uses. It is proposed that fenitrothion may continue to be used to control locusts and grasshoppers in pasture, pasture seed crops, lucerne and cereal crops with the ultra low volume formulation, when applied aerially. Farmers may also continue to use fenitrothion as a grain protectant. However, the use of fenitrothion on fruit and vegetables, in a number of ground and hand-held applications, for control of pasture pests, and in storage facilities and structures would not be permitted.

Fenitrothion is used for the control of a wide range of insect pests including grasshoppers, weevils, beetles, moths and grubs in cereal crops, lucerne, fruit and vegetables, pastures, stored grain facilities and structures such as flour mills and poultry houses.

Public comment is now being sought on the draft review report for fenitrothion. All comments must be received by 28 May 2004 and should be sent to chemicalreview@apvma.gov.au.

Details of the draft review findings and the recommendations for future use of fenitrothion are contained in the report - The reconsideration of approvals of the active constituent fenitrothion, registrations of products containing fenitrothion and their associated labels. Draft final report (PDF, 208kb).

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