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APVMA Response to 60 Minutes program

Date: 22 March 2010
Ref: 2010/05

Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program ‘Poisoned’ (external site) screened last night was based on some extraordinary misrepresentations.

The proposition that the Australian public is at risk from the agricultural chemicals endosulfan and carbendazim is not supported by the evidence.

These are little-used chemicals in Australia, with product sales accounting for less than one percent of insecticide sales (endosulfan) and a little over one percent of fungicide sales (carbendazim)  in 2008-09.

They are both widely used throughout the world, including the US and Canada.

Their use in Australia is tightly controlled and there is no evidence of the proposed human health or environmental effects experienced in places like India. The problems at the Noosa fish hatchery are under active investigation by the Queensland Government. In 2009 it established the Fish Health Investigation Taskforce.

The Taskforce has since released two interim reports (external site), neither of which has reported any evidence that chemicals are involved.

 The final report is due to be released in April. The APVMA will review this report to determine if and what regulatory action needs to be undertaken.

Sixty Minutes also suggested that Australian fruit and vegetables are not safe because they may contain harmful pesticide residues. This is an extraordinary and incorrect claim.

Australian fruit and vegetables are among the safest in the world to eat.

Agricultural chemicals will only be registered in Australia if the residue levels they produce on fruit and vegetables are below scientifically assessed health standards.

Australia has an extensive residue testing system involving local, state and Commonwealth regulators. This system is supplemented by wide ranging testing undertaken by commodity groups and supermarket chains.

Of the tens of thousands of tests done annually, there are very few cases where residues are found.  There is greater than 99% compliance with standards.


See also Chemicals in the News and the original 60 Minutes Approach to the APVMA.

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Download the PDF/RTF version: APVMA Response to Sixty Minutes program (PDF, 33kb) | (RTF, 160kb)