Fruit and vegetable pesticide faces Australian ban

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 29th August 2011

Australia’s chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), is considering banning dimethoate. The APVMA is concerned that the insecticide, widely used to control fruit fly in fruit and vegetables, may pose a health risk for consumers.

After completing a Residues and Dietary Risk Assessment, the APVMA said this week that the use of dimethoate on many crops exceeds the health standard established in January this year.

The APVMA proposes to suspend dimethoate products as an interim regulatory action while it completes further assessments on the chemical. This would prohibit the use of dimethoate on many fruits and vegetables including apples, avacados, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, potatoes, mandarins, melons, tomatoes, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, pears, and many more.

The APVMA report said, “The assessment concluded that some of the estimated exposures for consumers are above the health standard, reducing, but not breaching the margins of safety that are normally in place to protect consumers from short-term dietary risks.”

The APVMA has taken the first step toward a possible suspension by asking dimethoate product registrants and permit approval holders to ‘show cause’ as to why the proposed action should not be taken. Industry and grower groups have also been invited to submit information or data that may change the outcome of the dietary risk assessment by 13 September 2011.

The APVMA says it will consider the information received and determine the appropriate regulatory action. If regulatory action, such as suspension is to be taken, it will take effect by the end of September 2011, prior to the commencement of the main post-harvest dipping season.

Alternatives to dimethoate

According to the APVMA, there are registered alternatives to dimethoate for fruit fly control. These can be found on the APVMA’s database of registered products.