Occasionally, a nation has an opportunity to improve the regulation of pesticides. The Australian government gave itself that opportunity and the result will put profit and easier access to chemicals before human, animal and environmental health. What is at stake, and why is this such a lost opportunity?
Pesticides in Focus: Jerry Coleby-Williams in conversation with Jo Immig.
If you would prefer to listen here’s the audio stream
In September 2019, the Commonwealth Government started just such a process by appointing what was supposed to be an independent Panel to review Australia’s Agricultural and Veterinary (agvet) chemical regulatory system.
The Panel released an issues paper on 4 March 2020 and after stakeholder consultation subsequently released a draft report and recommendations on 16 December 2020 for further consultation, which ended on 26 February 2021.
On 12th March 2021, a Consensus Statement and Request for Senate and peer review was published by environmental health experts, independent scientists and civil society organisations with serious concerns about the proposed recommendations by that panel to deregulate the use of agricultural pesticides and veterinary medicines.
Principal concerns with the review:
The government appointed panel:
1) Failed to utilise the scientific evidence available;
2) Put cutting so-called red and green tape ahead of health and safety;
3) Exhibited questionable independence in the review;
4) Ensured that banned and unsafe agvet chemicals to remain in use in Australia;
Two of the panel’s most controversial suggestions are:
* To exempt consumer products for home gardeners and swimming pool chemicals from the new regulatory regime; and
* To apply double standards to chemical regulation – the panel was prepared to use foreign approvals to gain registration of new chemicals in Australia but was unwilling to use foreign bans on pesticides to withdraw them from use in Australia;
The Consensus Statement was collectively prepared by:
Jo Immig, Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith of the National Toxics Network;
Bob Phelps (GeneEthics);
Alexandra Jones (Pesticide Action Group of Western Australia);
Jane Bremmer (Western Australia Alliance for a Clean Environment);
Dr Matt Landos (Future Fisheries Veterinary Service);
Tammi Jonas (Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance);
Dr Alison Bleaney (Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network);