Dioxin fears air on ABC

22 Jul, 2013 09:23 AM
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THE Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has urgently referred test results to the Office of Chemical Safety after an ABC Four Corners investigation found elevated levels of dangerous dioxins in a generic version of widely used herbicide 2,4-D.

2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is a systemic herbicide used post emergence for the control of broadleaf and grass weeds on crops, turf, forestry and waterways.

Dioxins are chemical compounds that have been linked with a number of cancer and non-cancer health effects including reproductive effects and suppression of the immune system.

Four Corners broadcast the findings on Monday July 22 in a program on the legacy of herbicides 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, which reportedly killed many Australians who sprayed the dioxin-contaminated chemicals in the 1970s and '80s.

"The APVMA is always concerned about allegations of undeclared impurities found in registered products," APVMA chief executive Kareena Arthy said.

Croplife Australia CEO Matthew Cossey said he was worried by reports of cheaper generic substandard 2,4-D products coming into Australia, and a regulatory system should have an independent testing regime for substances like dioxins.

Croplife issued a statement last week calling on all parties to "commit in earnest to improving the national framework" for the regulation of agricultural chemicals in the lead up to the federal election.

Mr Cossey said while Australia was "fortunate to have an effective, robust, rigorous and scientific chemical registration system" which requires all chemical products to demonstrate their health and environmental safety before they can be registered for use in Australia, inconsistency in state laws was causing problems for the industry.

"Unfortunately inconsistency in state laws that control the use of agricultural chemical products and increased imports of illegal chemicals are undermining public confidence and must be addressed,” Mr Cossey said.

“There is little use in having a regulatory system that assesses and tests legitimate, registered products, while allowing cheap, untested, illegal product to cross our borders and put our farmers, environment and food supply at risk.

"Similarly, there is little use in having strict instructions for the safe use of approved chemical products if those rules are not enforced consistently and effectively."

A spokesperson for the company which owns the product tested by Four Corners said the APVMA did not have any guidelines for dioxins in 2,4-D.

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READER COMMENTS

Alice
22/07/2013 10:22:29 AM

Meanwhile FSANZ approves food imports genetically engineered to tolerate 2,4-D
emmi1970
22/07/2013 7:47:37 PM

We own a broadacre weed spraying business and many agronomists recommend 2-4D as part of spray programs. We refuse to use generic brands but it makes you hope that the established companies such as NuFarm etc analyse their active ingredients. How on earth can testing by the authorities take 18 YEARS and STILL NOT BE COMPLETED? WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
Percy
22/07/2013 8:54:36 PM

Not at all surprised that imported chemical products are NOT scrutinised like those produced in Australia are because the same applies to imported food stuffs whereby the population buys on price and not quality having come to expect what they buy will be safe; as has been the case while most food was Australian grown, but not the case nowadays because we are net importers. Have a look where where some fish is grown and sold here after being frozen - shipped to NZ - thawed - repacked as product of NZ - refrozen then shipped here. How much contamination or food value there?
bill
23/07/2013 6:12:05 AM

here we go again, the mouthpeice of the greenleft loonies issuing another panic attack. 24d is a commonly used very important chemical, 245t was agent orange, clever to link the 2?? not really just the usual lies and propaganda. the abc is chronically politicised, I want my money back.
holisticmick
23/07/2013 6:40:19 AM

bill get your facts right. Agent Orange was a 50:50 mix of 245T & 24D. About 15 years ago I had soil tests done for BFA organic certification and it revealed over 10 toxic chemical still residue in the the soil, some hadn't been used for decades. What sort of cocktail are we mixing for our future generations??
Jen from the bush
23/07/2013 6:53:33 AM

How does anyone know what imported food has been tainted with? Do we check they comply with chemical rules? Do we check that the chemicals they are using are safe? Pay more and keep AU farmers alive.
Bosco
23/07/2013 7:12:51 AM

It's exactly the same underlying issue that catapulted live export trade into the headlines: we can't answer important questions about our industry because no one ever knows what is going on. Even the regulator was disturbingly unprepared for her interview on such an important topic for the rest of the community that pays her wages to know. Talking to people outside agriculture and we are fast becoming the industry that time forgot. Last night was a total embarrassment. Many of the people that are supposed to be custodians of our industry need a massive kick up the backside & removal.
cardinal fang
23/07/2013 7:32:13 AM

@Bill... good to see you have a rational argument there, I can see you studied ag-science at uni (not!) and have some background in chemistry... I would say spray away mate, but seeing the spray drift can be up to 100km... hopefully you're nowhere near us as I'd like to know my kids are growing healthy.
forryman
23/07/2013 8:29:31 AM

in the 1970's i used a product called tribunil 24D which came in 1kg plastic bags. it was a powder mix but we were told told to break up the clumps by hand a a 9 litre bucket to make it into a slurry and then add to the tank. no gloves/ nothing and this was on a government run farm in W.A
fridgimus
23/07/2013 9:50:40 AM

Most of the old school sprayers I have known have died of cancer. Why are we always a decade behind when it comes to banning dangerous chemicals?
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