Fenthion use further restricted

16 October 2013
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Analysis of new residues data by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) means fenthion products can no longer be used on peaches and apricots but can still be used on a range of other fruits and vegetables subject to restrictions.

While fenthion is no longer approved for use on peaches and apricots from today it can still be used on other crops (under permit) until the review of fenthion is complete.

After analysing the latest data provided by industry, the APVMA is not satisfied that peaches and apricots sprayed with fenthion would have residue levels safe for eating.

The data only supported the ongoing, but restricted, use on other crops, including apples, pears, citrus (WA only), grapes, papaya, persimmons, cherries (WA only), nectarines, plums and melons – with some changes to time periods now required between spraying and harvest for some fruits.

The assessment report on the data provided to the APVMA is now available.

The APVMA has worked with industry bodies, state governments and business over the past year to ensure information about alternative use patterns and residues information was taken into account when making this decision. 

The APVMA also worked with stakeholders to better understand the implications of any proposed action for ongoing fruit fly control programs and to discuss the use of alternative chemicals and how improved pest management plans could help growers. The APVMA has also issued a number of permits for alternative products.

This decision is the latest in the 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.

There are currently eight registered fenthion products, only two of which are used on food crops and are affected by the suspension action. The remainder are veterinary and pest control products which are unaffected at this stage.

During the assessment period, it is open to industry to submit further scientifically valid data. 

Fenthion is an organophosphorus insecticide which at toxic levels interferes with the human nervous system. Safety standards are set well below toxic levels to protect both the community and the industry.

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