Infopest news February 2021

Welcome to the first edition of Infopest News for 2021. This year is going to be an exciting one for us at Infopest. We have been working with Growcom corporate member, Apunga to re-develop the Infopest search site and are launching 29 March. The new look site has a number of added features. It will save your favourite searches so you can easily look up regularly searched products and permits. You can choose which fields you like to display using the right of screen menu. Each result column header allows you to filter items of interest. PDFs of labels, permits and safety data sheets are linked to by L for label, M for Marketed Product Label (MPL) and S for Safety Data Sheet (SDS). An app is also to follow. So, save the date in your calendar to check it out!

Review of AgVet chemical regulations cause for concern

In September 2019, it was exciting to hear the then Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie announce her plan to undertake a first principles review of the regulatory framework underpinning the National Registration Scheme for Agricultural Chemicals and Veterinary Chemicals (AgVet chemicals). Since then, an independent panel has been appointed and an issue paper and draft consultation paper have been produced, outlining the Panel’s vision for regulatory reform and excitement has turned to concern.

Growcom has prepared a submission to the Draft Review, representing issues that affect growers and then offering comment on the regulatory impacts of the changes proposed. Whilst Growcom appreciates the Panel’s intent for being bold and innovative in their approach to the review of the AgVet chemical regulatory system, there is concern that the recommendations made will not achieve the desired result. Improving access to chemicals for growers is more about solving the minor use problem than implementing new levels of bureaucracy to regulate the system further. Growcom and other stakeholders have pointed out that whilst we do receive novel chemical actives registered in Australia, getting uses for smaller crops onto labels is where we struggle.

In 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment commissioned the Deloitte agency to review barriers and drivers in the Australian AgVet chemical market. The resulting report, Agvet Chemicals – Market Drivers and Barriers, has some interesting findings. Essentially, it is the paper’s conclusion that the position Australia is in with access to AgVet chemical uses is due primarily to our small market size and that changes of a regulatory nature will do little to impact that. In its recommendations, the Deloitte paper listed three key barriers which were considered:
(1) the size and volatility of the Australian market,
(2) the high R&D costs associated with novel AgVet chemicals, and
(3) the cost and time required to register novel AgVet chemicals in Australia.

They found that “The small size and volatility of the Australian market was… the most significant barrier that restricts access to novel agvet chemicals…” Deloitte also made the point that, “While it is difficult to compare international regulatory systems, regulation of agvet chemicals in Australia was broadly in-line with comparable overseas markets; in terms of the burden of proof placed on manufacturers, the statutory fees charged by the APVMA and registration time frames.” So, our market size, not our regulator is to blame for the issues we face with registered pesticide uses for horticulture.

Deloitte went on to say that “There are few (if any) levers that government can or should activate to address the most significant barrier identified as part of this report — the small size and volatility of the market in Australia.” The report assessed a number of reforms that have been implemented with some positive effect. These include crop grouping; reliance of international evidence in support of decisions; participation in International Joint Reviews; harmonizing our regulatory system with international regulators.

Deloitte also detailed those which had also been considered but were rejected as options as they would not impact the key issue – market size. These policies were: optional submission of mandatory efficacy assessments to APVMA; and allowing external third parties to make assessments against the standards set by the APVMA. Under this proposed option, Deloitte noted potential cost increases to registration and that there may be a greater risk of unsafe or inefficacious chemicals being registered than would otherwise be the case.

Deloitte stated, “There is also potential for this option to compromise Australia’s strong global reputation for agvet chemical regulation which is underpinned by the independent regulator’s assessment of scientific evidence in support of efficacy and safety. Introducing an option for third parties to undertake the assessment of evidence in support of an application would diminish the regulator’s role and this may weaken reputation of the Australian system. Because the strength of the current system is a driver of supply for novel agvet chemicals — with manufactures seeking registration in Australia to facilitate approval in other markets — weakening the system’s reputation may in fact reduce the supply of novel agvet chemicals.”

It is interesting to note that of the reforms that were rejected, the Review Panel has recommended the inclusion of third-party assessment in addition to the APVMA, seeking to build assessment capacity beyond the agency, when it seems that this action may have the opposite effect. It would be good to see the Deloitte paper included in the assessment made by the Panel and Growcom has included this observation in their submission on the topic.

What we need is a focus on reforms which will address the minor use issue not those that will potentially undermine and weaken our national regulator, APVMA. We are advocating for a range of options which will lift the value of minor use to registrants; promoting a review of chemical access needs that could be easily met with scientific argument rather than residue data generation; and expansion of the Ag Chemical Access Priorities Forum concept to provide a regular forum for the R&D Corporations to meet with Chemical Registrants to determine gaps that need filling and what can be offered as solutions.
Growcom is making sure that growers’ interests are front of mind in this review of agvet chemical regulation.

Syngenta’s New herbicide, Reflex with novel active, Fomesafen

The APVMA is considering an application for registration of a new product containing a new active constituent, formesafen. Syngenta’s Reflex herbicide is being considered for the control of a range of broadleaf weeds applied to sowing or post-sowing, pre-emergence in chickpeas, lupins, lentils, field peas, faba beans and vetch. Formesan’s mode of action (Group G) will allow it to control group B,C,D,F and I resistant weeds.
Read more about Reflex from Syngenta or see the APVMA’s Gazette page 26.

Arysta Lifescience Australia’s new miticide, Kanemite with novel active Acequinocyl

Arysta Lifescience Australia Pty Ltd has applied to the APVMA for registration of the new product Kanemite Miticide, containing 156 g/L of the new active constituent acequinocyl, as a suspension concentrate (SC). The APVMA public consultation has closed and the APVMA is considering the application for control of two-spotted mites in pome and stone fruit.
To read the APVMA’s public release summary, click here

Feral pigs in focus

There are many vertebrate pests that cause Australian land holders and crop growers much loss and destruction. Not the least among them are feral pigs. Hoggone meSN feral Pig Bait has been recently approved by the APVMA, offering users an effective, fast-acting, and humane solution to target feral pigs. Sodium nitrite is the active ingredient which pigs lack the protective enzyme to process the chemical, causing a swift death without suffering. Read Animal Control Technologies’ media release.

Hoggone will be a valuable tool alongside the National Feral Pig Action Plan the first draft of the plan was submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on 15 January 2021.
It’s the first national action plan that has been developed to address reducing the impacts caused by feral pigs to Australia’s environmental, agricultural, cultural and social assets through sustained, coordinated and collaborative actions by land managers.

This draft Plan is the culmination of extensive consultations with the NFPAP’s Steering Group and our stakeholders, including the federal, state and territory, and local governments, multiple agricultural industries, natural resource management, environment and conservation groups, indigenous organisations and land managers around Australia. Read the draft National Feral Pig Action Plan.