THE government authority given the task of reviewing the sheep lice treatment diazinon has revealed

24 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM
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The organisation acknowledged that many of the responses highlighted the important role diazinon played in the wool industry.

But the APVMA said none of the responses contained information or data sufficient to alter the basis for occupational health and safety concerns identified in the PRF.

Earlier this month the APVMA indicated it would investigate the use of diazinon in a cage dipping method developed recently in Victoria and not previously assessed in the PRF.

The APVMA also expressed its willingness to work with industry, state regulatory authorities and registrants, after receiving strong criticism from wool lobby groups.

As a result, Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran will hold an industry think-tank meeting with stakeholders to discuss the future of diazinon.

Mr McGauran said all options to allow the continued use of diazinon had to be explored before the APVMA board met at the end of next month to consider restricting the chemical.

While a final regulatory decision will be made before April, the APVMA has already indicated on several occasions that sheep dipping and jetting with diazinon is harmful to human health.

Mr McGauran has reiterated woolgrower sentiments and said diazinon was one of the cheapest and most effective chemicals to treat sheep for lice.

³I want to be certain that every possible way in which farmers can safely and affordably apply diazinon to sheep has been explored,² he said.

³While the APVMA has indicated it may allow farmers to continue applying the insecticide using a cage dipping technique, there may be other alternatives the statutory authority should consider.

³I accept there is scientific evidence to support the view that diazinon is a dangerous insecticide.

³We need to make sure all possible methods to safely apply it and alternative insecticides have been put on the table.²

National wool lobby group WoolProducers, Australian Wool Innovation, Sheepmeat Council and the APVMA will attend the stakeholder meeting expected to take place before an APVMA board meeting next month.

Meanwhile, agricultural product group 4 Farmers and WAFarmers livestock and wool representatives met with the APVMA in Perth this week to discuss the diazinon review.

4 Farmers principal and woolgrower Phil Patterson convened the meeting because he believed WA growers¹ concerns needed to be heard.

³Unless we can come up with some solutions here we are going to be in real trouble,² he said.

Mr Patterson, who also runs 15,000 Merino ewes, has had to use diazinon about four times in recent years to control lice outbreaks.

³I know it¹s late in the day, but we don¹t want to be fighting a rearguard action like we did for 2,4-D,² he said.

³People in Canberra are often out of touch; I need diazinon as backup for my sheep.

³How would they like to run around with lice in their hair for 10 months ‹ because that¹s what will happen to our sheep if they restrict diazinon.²

Government agriculture and scientific employees who use chemicals similar to diazinon must take blood tests annually to assess exposure levels.

But Mr Patterson said the APVMA had made it clear that annual blood tests were not an option for the authority to allow the open use of diazinon on farms.

The old Harrington-style plunge dip was an alternative discussed at the meeting and could be safe to use with diazinon.

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