Farmers maintain access to popular insecticide dimethoate

20 March 2017

Australian farmers will continue to have access to a popular insecticide following a decision from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) that confirms dimethoate is safe and effective to use on a number of agricultural crops.

The APVMA decision follows a thirteen-year reconsideration of the insecticide, which commenced in 2004 to confirm the safe use of dimethoate and that possible exposure to its residues in food is within safe limits.

APVMA Executive Director, Scientific Assessment and Chemical Review, Dr Jason Lutze, says that the findings on dimethoate are a result of extensive engagement with industry, over a number of years, which has provided the evidence required to allow a number of uses to be maintained.

“Farmers can still use dimethoate on avocado, cereal, citrus, cotton, mango, peanut and pulse crops, and the amended labels outline new instructions that will protect the health of workers,” Dr Lutze said.

“A number of these uses would not have been possible had we made a final decision in 2011.”

The APVMA took interim regulatory action to suspend the use of dimethoate on many food crops and in the home garden in 2011 following advice that residue levels could exceed the recommended public health standard.

“Since the suspension, we’ve undertaken significant engagement with industry that included numerous calls for data,” Dr Lutze said.

“People have had time to generate that data, to consider the possibility that particular uses would be removed indefinitely and the opportunity to adjust their agricultural practice.”

The final regulatory decision restricts the use of dimethoate in oilseed and fodder crops, and removes approval to use dimethoate in the home garden, on some tropical fruit crops and some vegetables where there is insufficient data to confirm these uses are safe.

The full details of the regulatory decision, including a list of crop uses that are being retained, removed or amended are available from www.apvma.gov.au/dimethoate.

A number of alternative registered chemicals are available for many of the uses that have been removed.

The new labels approved by the APVMA include only those uses that have been confirmed as safe and also include amended safety directions and re-entry instructions to protect workers.

Retailers can continue to sell existing agricultural products with the old labels for a period of 24 months and farmers are encouraged to use up existing stock during the phase out period.

From 6 March 2019 all agricultural products containing dimethoate that are sold in Australia must have the new approved labels.

Permits have been granted to ensure that growers may continue to use dimethoate products bearing the previous labels during this phase out period.

The supply of household products containing dimethoate is to cease immediately and consumers have 12 months under the phase out period to use existing stock.

More information about the dimethoate review and consultation process can be found on the APVMA website.

Fast facts

  • Dimethoate is a broadspectrum organophosphorus (OP) insecticide used to control insects and mites in horticulture and broadacre cropping.
  • As with all other OP pesticides, dimethoate kills mites and insects by interfering with the nervous system.
  • The reconsideration of dimethoate commenced in 2004 to confirm the safe use of insecticide and that possible exposure to its residues in food is within safe limits.
  • In 2011 the APVMA released the finding of the Dimethoate Residues and Dietary Risk Assessment Report and took interim regulatory action to suspend some uses and amend others in response to unacceptable dietary exposure to dimethoate residues on food.
  • The final regulatory decision on dimethoate includes the removal of several agricultural uses on crops where there is insufficient residues data to determine that the use could be modified to mitigate dietary risks.
  • More than 100 studies on toxicology, residues and workplace safety have been received during the lifespan of the review, all of which have been considered by the APVMA in this 2017 regulatory decision.
  • The initial request for data in 2004 generated a strong response from industry and the community. The response to this chemical reconsideration included a 300 kg shipment of printed paperwork from Europe.

Further information: Roanna Dawson | Director, Public Affairs | 0467 726 486 | media@apvma.gov.au

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