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Sheep chemical workshop recognises need for regulatory change

Media release 05/05

Participants at a workshop organised by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) today considered a range of options the APVMA might take to avert potential risks from the continued use of a range of products used to control external parasites of sheep such as lice and blowfly strike.

The workshop was triggered by a rigorous assessment of independent research that identified potentially unacceptable human health, environmental and trade risks associated with the ongoing use of the popular ectoparasiticides.

A recent evaluation by the Office of Chemical Safety of a research project requested by the APVMA and funded by Australian Wool Innovation showed that the use of sheep dip products containing the organophosphate diazinon may pose an unacceptable risk to the health of rural workers.

Similarly, studies conducted by the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) identified that chemical residues on treated wool may pose a potential future trade risk in wool exported to the European Union who are expected to implement new environmental standards in October 2007.

‘The workshop, attended by 40 key stakeholders, was a very useful discussion about the very real challenges facing the wool industry’, Martin Holmes, Program Manager Veterinary Medicines said today.

‘There was agreement at the workshop to consider a range of regulatory and producer-driven management solutions that might reduce potential risk scenarios’.

‘These included the consideration of new technologies to improve worker safety and the development of a mechanism to monitor residue levels to meet future export requirements’ Mr Holmes said.

Mr Holmes welcomed the leadership shown on this issue by Australian Wool Innovation, the National Farmers Federation and members of the National Association for Crop Protection and Animal Health (AVCARE).

‘The APVMA has a clear and important mandate to protect human health, the environment and trade. It was very pleasing to see the chemical and rural industries take a responsible position in support of appropriate regulation and on-farm management strategies.’ he said.

The APVMA aims to release its Preliminary Review Report for both diazinon and sheep ectoparasiticides in April 2006. This will trigger a period of public consultation leading up to final reports for diazinon in late 2006 and for sheep ectoparasiticides in early 2007.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the Australian government independent authority charged with the protection of the health and safety of people, animals, the environment and trade through science-based regulation of pesticides and veterinary medicines.

A short backgrounder paper on Diazinon and Sheep Ectoparasiticides Reviews (PDF, 39kb) and Methyl Bromide are available on the APVMA website.

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