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Media release: Regulatory changes on popular horticultural fungicide

Media Release 0405, 18 November 2004

The registration of the widely used horticultural fungicide, procymidone, is to be reviewed and new label instructions for use of products issued as part of a package of regulatory measures for the chemical announced by the national regulator of pesticides and veterinary medicines, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

APVMA Principal Scientist, Dr David Loschke, said that the action comes as a result of a recent toxicological assessment of the chemical that identified a risk that exposure to the chemical could exceed new tougher health standards.

‘This latest finding also follows the recent classification of the previously unscheduled chemical as a Schedule 7 poison because of reports of its association with birth defects in laboratory animals,’ Dr Loschke said.

‘In the interests of public health and of worker safety we are immediately introducing a number of regulatory actions to control how the chemical is used more tightly as well as reviewing its long term future,’ he said.

‘We are immediately recalling all procymidone products to replace their current product labels with new instructions that see a number of uses cancelled, apply longer withholding periods, have tighter requirements for the use of safety equipment and contain the warning that women of child bearing age should not use the product’.

‘As well, we are immediately commencing a formal reconsideration of the chemical’s registration status. This means that we will be evaluating detailed scientific information to determine if we can remain satisfied with the continued registration of procymidone and, if so, under what conditions,’ Dr Loschke said.

‘I should stress that the regulatory steps we are taking are protective in nature. There have not been any reports of health problems associated with the use of the chemical in the nearly 40 years it has been available in Australia. People’s health is our highest priority and we just won’t take risks with it,’ he said.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will also be taking immediate protective action to delete the permissions for residues of procymidone in the foods affected following advice from the APVMA. FSANZ has conducted a dietary exposure assessment and concludes that the risk to public health and safety from residues of procymidone on those foods is considered very low, particularly when a balanced diet containing a range of healthy foods (including a broad range of fruit and vegetables) is consumed.

Procymidone is a systemic fungicide registered for use in Australia since 1968. It is used on lupins, grapes, stone fruit, strawberries and some vegetables. It is widely used in horticulture either as a seed dressing, pre-harvest spray or post-harvest dip for the control of various fungal diseases in certain fruits and vegetables.

The APVMA website contains a detailed summary of the regulatory action along with answers to frequently asked questions