GRAIN growers could be banned from using 2,4-D high volatile esters (HVE) again this summer unless chemical manufacturers can raise $100,000 for self-funded field trials.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) put the industry on notice in October that it would only approve 2,4-D HVE use this season subject to a unique permit incorporating testing of the chemical’s performance under local conditions.
The APVMA has been reviewing the use of 2,4-D HVE since 2003 due to perceived problems with the chemical’s off-target drift.
The pesticide is popular with growers to control summer weeds in broadacre cropping systems but the APVMA believes it is transported long distances from its original spraying site under certain conditions.
Industry members are gravely concerned that the APVMA’s information on the chemical has only been generated from computer modelling, with no data from WA conditions.
The APVMA threatened to ban the chemical’s use last season but the situation was reversed after the CBH’s Better Farm IQ program successfully applied for a permit which enabled growers in 57 WA shires to use the product during the summer.
To ensure its use this season, CBH Better Farm IQ Manager David Jeffries lodged a unique permit application with the APVMA last month on behalf of the program.
Mr Jeffries told Farm Weekly the permit would allow 2,4-D HVE to be used from next month to May 2008, but only in conjunction with the self-funded field trials.
They would be held in two phases and provide fresh data to determine the actual level of vapour movement in paddocks.
Mr Jeffries said the information would supersede the APVMA’s data, generated by the computer modelling, and help to address some of the existing gaps.
He said he had hoped $100,000 for the trials would come from the chemical’s 20 registrants but only seven companies had committed funding to the project by the start of this week.
CBH wrote to each registrant early this month asking them to contribute $5000 each.
However, by Monday, $30,000 was outstanding.
Mr Jeffries said the APVMA would not issue a permit for this summer unless more of the remaining 13 registrants put their hand in their pockets during the next week.
He said there would also be the danger that 2,4-D HVE would never be sold or used in Australia again.
“If the money can’t be raised in time, the permit will not be issued, running the potential risk that all Australian registrations for 2,4-D HVE will be cancelled,” he said.
“It is the chemical manufacturers who stand to benefit from these trials so it is reasonable to expect that they should contribute,” he said.
Mr Jeffries said if the money was not raised in time, the APVMA would move to finalise its review of 2,4-D HVE and ban its use.
“The APVMA would base their decision on their current findings which say that the chemical is an unacceptable risk,” he said.
“The decision would remain in place for ever, or until someone proves it is safe and provides the data to fill the current gap in the APVMA’s understanding of the issue.”