Restricted fenthion permit issued

29 October 2013
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An interim permit issued today allows very restricted use of the suspended insecticide fenthion on peaches and apricots in the 2013-14 growing season.

Following the suspension of fenthion for use on these crops on 16 October an industry organisation asked the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to consider whether a single spray of fenthion would be acceptable.

Industry advised that a single spray of fenthion for this season would still be useful for growers when combined with other control options closer to harvest.

Based on the available data, the APVMA assessed that, with a single spray, peaches and apricots would have residues at safe levels after 21 days.

"After consideration of the data provided, we have issued an interim permit which allows growers to apply fenthion once this season to peach and apricot crops, and there must be 21 days between spraying and harvest," said Dr Raj Bhula, Executive Director, Pesticides.

The permit applies for the period 29 October 2013 to 30 April 2014.

"To produce fruit which is safe for consumers to eat, growers must comply with the conditions of this permit for the use of fenthion on peaches and apricots," Dr Bhula said.

Residue levels will be monitored independently over the season.

"If residue levels are found to be above what is considered safe, the APVMA will take immediate action which may include cancellation of the permit.

"Issuing this restricted permit does not change the current suspension instructions or permits already in place for other uses of fenthion." Dr Bhula said.

The APVMA is conducting an ongoing review of fenthion which includes consideration of human safety (toxicology); residues in food; worker safety; and the environment. This decision only relates to the human safety and residues in food components of the review.

Assessment of all components of the review is expected to be completed in mid-2014 with the final decision on the uses of fenthion in Australia expected soon after.

Fenthion is not registered for use on food producing plants in the European Union, USA, Canada or New Zealand.

At toxic levels fenthion interferes with the human nervous systems and safety standards are set well below toxic levels to protect both the community and the industry.

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