Diuron restriction may be reviewed

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has indicated, under questioning by Senator Ian Macdonald at the Senate Estimates hearings in Parliament today that it would be willing to re-visit the restrictions that have been placed on the use of the herbicide Diuron by canegrowers if new evidence and research is submitted.

Senator Macdonald, Opposition spokesman for Northern and Remote Australia, said that his questioning this morning had revealed that the departments original data that Diuron was deleteriously impacting on Reef biodiversity had been discounted in 2010.

Further questioning revealed that the principal environmental impact being observed at this time is on aquatic life in primary and secondary waterways and streams.

Canegrowers across Northern Queensland have been hit hard by storms, by droughts and by falling prices said the Senator.

These are among our best agricultural citizens cane growers make a better than normal attempt to comply with the rules. Their enthusiastic participation in programs like Reef Rescue shows they are environmental leaders.

The restrictions on the use of Diuron have hit them hard in the hip pocket and now we discover that those restrictions have been based on possibly inaccurate data. he said.

Diuron costs Cane Farmers between $14 and $34 per hectare treated. Alternative pre-emergent herbicides cost between $103 and $160 per hectare.

Departmental official have, however, this morning committed to re-visiting the imposition of restrictions on the use of Diuron, should new data be generated by on-going monitoring

Senator Macdonald also questioned the department on the false-high readings that may be generated by testing streams near times of flood or peak tides.

The departments officials were not able to answer this question but, to their credit, undertook to investigate he said

Of greatest interest is that fact that APVMA will be looking at data that is generated over the next five years and, should this data or other information produced by, for example, GBRMPA or Canegrowers QLD disprove current findings, then the restrictions may be lifted.

The department indicated that, where it was looking principally at environmental issues, a review could take around nine months.

Some relief for canegrowers may yet be on the cards.

Senator Macdonald urged the industry to continue its campaign and research into the proper use and application of Diuron.

It seems to me that the banning of Diuron was an over-reaction and the decision should be reviewed, Senator Macdonald said.

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