Health concerns for children eating Australian fruit, APVMA proposes to ‘suspend’ fenthion

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th October 2012

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is recommending suspension of the common fruit-fly control chemical, fenthion, after it was reported that dietary exposure in young children was a health risk.

The APVMA’s residues and dietary exposure report just published, shows that a 2–6 year old child eating certain fruits and vegetables treated with fenthion may be exposed to unsafe levels of residue.

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,” Dr Bhula said.

The 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 and post-harvest uses on fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes. A suspension of fenthion may also follow for use in domestic vegetable patches.

While the APVMA is looking to discourage the over-usage of a particular pesticide, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has strongly criticised the Victorian government for its plan to reduce government funding for Queensland fruit-fly eradications programs. The fruit-fly eradication programs, which are reported to have cost the Victorian taxpayer $9 Million last season, have been rising to ‘unsustainable levels’ according to the Victorian government. The Victorian government has stated that it plans to spend significantly less money trying to control the pest, which, it says, is now endemic in Victoria.