Group wins insecticide battle
PEOPLE living near North Coast orchards can breathe a little easier today following the deregistration of all endosulfan-based insecticides by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
Endosulfan was mainly used to kill bugs and beetles on macadamias, avocados and stonefruit on the Northern Rivers, but had previously been recommended for use on a variety of vegetables and tropical fruits and nuts.
Bangalow-based co-ordinator of the National Toxics Network, Joanna Immig, was celebrating yesterday following her group’s 10-year battle to have the chemical banned.
“We’re very pleased and relieved – we feel vindicated in our opposition to endosulfan,” she said.
“But we’re also very annoyed that the regulator has taken this long to do something that should’ve been done years ago,” she said.
While the regulatory authority says the risks to human health were not a factor in the decision, it conceded the prolonged use of endosulfan was ‘likely to lead to adverse environmental effects via spray drift and run-off’.
Tuesday’s deregistration of pesticides containing endosulfan means that current applications to use it have been cancelled and the five agricultural products containing the chemical will be phased out over the next two years.
The authority added endosulfan did not represent the same risk to agricultural workers here as in the US due to the restricted conditions of use imposed in 2005.
Ms Immig disagreed, saying more than 70 countries had already banned endosulfan.
“What really concerns us is that the APVMA has taken so long to remove this dangerous pesticide and, in its decision, has stated it will allow the environment to be exposed for another two years as stocks of the chemical are used up,” she said.
“The APVMA did not act quickly enough when the science was clear and as a result the environment has been put at risk. The regulator needs to answer questions about its slowness in acting to protect the Australian environment.”