Collaboration key to chemical resistance

21 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
Many Australian producers do not have the same level of access to pesticides as their competitors

THE impact on farm productivity of growing resistance to agricultural pesticides and veterinary (AgVet) chemicals has prompted the creation of a priority list to focus technologies.

The AgVet Technology Priority List has been launched by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).

A statement released by RIRDC says the list is the first outcome of the AgVet Collaborative Forum established in June, through RIRDC’s National Rural Issues program, with Department of Agriculture support, to identify solutions to key weed, pest and disease challenges through improved access to AgVet technologies.

The forum facilitated a direct, formal discussion between AgVet technology users and the businesses producing them.

Released on RIRDC’s website,, the priority list aims to highlight business opportunities for AgVet companies by providing direction on industry needs and a process to identify potential partnerships and co-investment opportunities with industry.

RIRDC managing director Craig Burns said the priority list aims to build a pool of more robust AgVet technologies to help drive a sustainable and productive future for Australian agriculture.

“Significantly, plant and animal industry representatives and chemical companies came together for the first time through the forum and identified solutions to a high proportion of previously unsolvable issues,” Mr Burns said.

“For example, of the one third of the crop/pest priorities submitted by the plant industries that had no solution, over half of these now have solutions.

“In addition, all issues raised by the animal industries had a solution identified. In particular, access to anesthetic technology for improving animal welfare has been listed as a high priority as a result.”

While pest and disease chemical resistance has long been an issue for Australia’s cropping and livestock sectors, new and emerging industries also face a lack of adequate AgVet technologies, with these challenges expected to significantly increase within the next decade, according to RIRDC.

“This issue is exacerbated by a lack of investment incentive for AgVet chemical registrants, meaning many Australian producers do not have the same level of access to pesticides as their competitors,” Mr Burns said.

“For example, Californian wine producers can access double the range of fungicides accessible to Australian producers.

“Australia represents less than three per cent of the global crop pesticide market and less than 1.5 per cent of the broader global AgVet market.

“Given the relatively small market size and high regulatory costs for chemical registration, the case for commercial investment is not always strong.

“But access to a wider range of appropriate AgVet technologies will give Australian producers a broader suite of solutions to assist them in producing clean, healthy food in a sustainable manner. The benefits flow beyond the farmgate to improved environmental, animal welfare and food quality outcomes.”

Reg Kidd, chair of the National Farmers' Federation AgVet Chemicals Taskforce, said collaboration was key to achieving the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural chemical reforms.

“The forum provides a process for stocktaking where we are: the good, bad and ugly,” Mr Kidd said.

“It is about where we want to be collectively for all industry partners. It’s pleasing to see all relevant players are now working together strategically to provide a united voice to the relevant authorities, government and politicians.”

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The Weed's Network
22/07/2015 12:33:51 PM

The project used scarce research and development funding to push for the introduction of chemicals rejected as too dangerous by other countries. The Minister of Agriculture's considered response to the failed chemical technology used in Australia is to co-fund an allocation of $45 Million to research more toxic chemistry in Germany via the GRDC and Bayer (no Australian university funding). Plus, zero funding or assistance to non-chemical farming research. Lot of eggs being placed in one basket here ... surely we can do better than this.
23/07/2015 9:22:51 AM

To be fair, the GRDC also fund AHRI, which has a strong focus on non-chemical methods for controlling weeds, and if looking for the "best" people to conduct chemistry research into new modes of action, not sure any AU university would be a better choice than Bayer.


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