Our functions and powers

The regulatory framework for managing agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines in Australia is referred to as the National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRS). Under the NRS framework, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is responsible for the regulation and control of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals up to the point of retail sale. We also oversee the import and export of those chemicals and medicines that contain them.

Before agvet chemical products can be legally sold, supplied or used in Australia, the products must be evaluated and registered by the APVMA. The APVMA approves active constituents, which are the substances in agvet chemical products that are primarily responsible for biological and other effects of a particular product. An active constituent must be approved before, or at the same time, as the product containing the active constituent.

The kinds of chemicals registered by the APVMA include household chemicals such as insect sprays, personal insect repellents and products for treating plant diseases in the home garden. We also register medicines for veterinary applications such as the treatment of companion animals and chemicals for use in industrial applications in the agricultural industry.

As part of the product registration process, the APVMA approves certain aspects of a product label called the relevant particulars. These particulars include information that identifies the product and information that explains how the product is to be used, how to store and dispose of the product and the action to take in the case of poisoning.

As part of our regulatory role, the APVMA undertakes chemical reviews. A chemical review may be conducted in respect to an active constituent or an agvet product that has been available to the market for a significant period of time. The active constituent or product will be reviewed to assess whether it still does the job that the chemical is expected to do, and whether it is safe to use. A chemical review may involve a reassessment of the approval or registration of agvet chemicals where a potential risk to safety or performance has been identified. Regulatory action, such as the imposition of conditions about the way in which the chemical product is used, or the cancellation of registration, may be the outcome of a chemical review.

As a regulator, the APVMA also has the power to recall defective or non-compliant products. This helps to ensure the quality and safety of agvet chemicals in the marketplace as well as compliance with the relevant legislation.

The APVMA also considers applications for permits to use an agvet chemical in a manner that is different to the directions for use specified on the product label. A permit may authorise an unregistered chemical to be used in limited circumstances.

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