Inquiry says move harmful

By Country News

The authority that approves pesticides and chemicals used in Australian cropping operations has been affected by its forced relocation from Canberra to Armidale.

A Senate inquiry has found the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s move had affected its performance.

The relocation ‘‘has caused considerable disruption to staff and severely weakened the authority’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently,’’ the inquiry’s report said.

It also said the APVMA’s international reputation was at stake, with flow-on effects to Australia’s international trade.

Agricultural and veterinary products made, sold, imported or used in Australia must be registered by the agency.

Industry body CropLife Australia welcomed the Senate inquiry report, saying it confirmed APVMA’s status as a world-leading regulator whose decisions were based strictly on science and evidence, free from industry influence.

‘‘The inquiry was established following sensationalised and baseless media reporting without any scientific foundation,’’ CropLife chief executive officer Matthew Cossey said.

‘‘However, the weight of evidence presented to the committee has confirmed why the community should have confidence in the decisions of the APVMA,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s disappointing that some organisations that sought to perpetuate that misunderstanding weren’t even bothered to make a submission to the inquiry — but this is understandable considering they had no evidence to back their position.’’

Mr Cossey said before any agricultural chemical product could be sold or manufactured in Australia, it went through rigorous scientific assessment by APVMA.

‘‘They assess the safety and expected use of the product. The Senate inquiry confirmed this.

‘‘It’s somewhat perplexing that those who nominally argue for the APVMA to be independent then also seek to direct them to undertake unnecessary reviews.’’

The Greens party said while it supported some findings in the committee’s majority report, it did not agree with the committee views in relation to both glyphosate specifically or to chemical safety overall.