Biosecurity group call for fenthion ban

21 Jun, 2014 02:00 AM
There is still nothing to totally control fruit fly

A CALL has been made to form a biosecurity group to manage the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in WA.

The proposal comes after the Hills Orchard Improvement Group (HOIG) last week requested Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston dismiss the FruitWest committee, claiming it failed to represent WA growers in a senate inquiry on the chemical fenthion.

After discussions between HOIG and Mr Baston, he has proposed a formation of the biosecurity group to help assist with the issue.

HOIG has been campaigning for two years against a proposal by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to ban the use of fenthion the only pesticide proven by sustained in-field testing to kill Mediterranean fruit fly in all stages of its life cycle.

Mr Baston met with HOIG spokesperson Brett DelSimone at his orchard last week to share information about grower issues and look at possible outcomes.

Mr DelSimone said the visit from Mr Baston was very positive in all regards.

"He showed a keen interest in what we do and the issues we face," Mr DelSimone said.

"We spoke about many issues, including fenthion, grower issues and FruitWest.

"We discussed HOIG's side of the story, as well as providing Mr Baston with evidence, which he said he would review."

Mr DelSimone said the group had met with representatives from the City of Armadale, the Shire of Kalamunda, the Department of Agriculture and Food and Mr Baston's advisers to discuss the potential formation of a biosecurity group.

"Mr Baston recognised there is a role for the State to play in these discussions and (a biosecurity group) will involve a partnership between the shires, State Government and growers," Mr DelSimone said.

"We discussed funding structures and possibilities, and the aim of the biosecurity group, which would look at some programs, education, research and assistance for growers.

"It will be a timely process, however we are open to ideas and we are not saying no to anything."

Mr Baston last week told the Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations during the Agriculture Estimates hearings, that he had visited Mr DelSimone's orchard and that there was a realisation of the need to phase out the chemical fenthion.

"We have encouraged them to form a biosecurity group to look at that (to possibly manage the issue of fenthion)," Mr Baston said.

"It has been put to them before and that was explained to them this week.

"They've had meetings on how they can manage it but one of the big problems is very much those orchards not being managed.

"In other words, someone just has a holiday block with some fruit trees on it.

"The department is certainly helping growers up there in every endeavour to actually bring it under control."

Mr DelSimone said HOIG was interested in a fenthion phase-out program, but also wanted to keep fruit growers in production.

"There is still nothing to totally control fruit fly," Mr DelSimone said.

"But such a biosecurity group could be involved in the sterile release program and educating non-commercial growers it will be a multi-facet solution."

Jacinta Bolsenbroek

Jacinta Bolsenbroek

is a senior journalist at Farm Weekly


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