Fenthion is a chemical used in the fruit and vegetable industry to control fruit fly. This pest can make a crop unsaleable and therefore significantly impact on a farmer’s livelihood and that of the industry. Queensland has a statewide eradication program that has until now been in part funded by the Victorian government.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is calling for this commonly used agricultural chemical to be suspended from use.
The APVMA has just published it’s residues and dietary exposure report, which shows that children up to six years old may be exposed to unacceptable levels of residue of this chemical.
The new APVMA report recommends removal of a number of uses such as pre-harvest uses of fenthion on apples, pears, citrus, loquats, quince, stonefruit, pepinos, eggplant and tomatoes as well as post-harvest uses on fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes.
The APVMA Pesticides Program Manager, Dr Raj Bhula, said that “APVMA had a duty to ensure the safe use of agricultural chemicals. These findings are a trigger to take action to ensure that consumers remain protected.”
Going alongside this call to action by the APVMA, is a criticism of the Victorian Government by the Victorian Farmers Federation. That government is planning to reduce it’s funding of the Queensland eradication program, saying that it has blown out to $9 million last year and that as this pest is now endemic in that state there will be less spent in trying to control it.