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More support needed for farmers to ditch toxic chemicals

29 November 2011 - Greater support for farmers to take up alternative farming practices and less toxic chemicals is needed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, following yesterday’s four month partial suspension of the toxic herbicide Diuron by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Australian Green environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters welcomed the wet season ban on Diuron usage on tropical crops and irrigation channels while the APVMA makes its final decision on whether to permanently ban Diuron.

However, the Queensland Senator expressed concern that other uses of Diuron could continue at a reduced rate of 1.8kg per hectare per year, a level still far in excess of the environmentally safe level proposed by the federal environment department of 160gms which appears to have been ignored in the APVMA’s decision.

“Diuron has been under review for nine years now, and while this decision by the APVMA is a step in the right direction, it still falls significantly short of delivering safe outcomes for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef,” Senator Waters said.

“Feedback provided to me directly from cane growers is that the environmentally safe level of 160gm of Diuron per hectare is agriculturally ineffective anyway, making a total ban on Diuron and better support for alternatives the only practical option for farmers and the environment.

 “I’m pleased that the popular Reef Rescue program, which works in partnership with farmers to upgrade equipment and practices to reduce harmful run-off to the Reef and foster innovation in farming, hasn’t been cut in today’s MYEFO.

“The Greens will push for an additional $200 million over five years to extend this program in our budget negotiations with Government.

“Diuron is an extremely toxic herbicide that poses a significant risk to our waterways and to the Great Barrier Reef in run-off, and there are less harmful alternative herbicides available. Farmers must be supported to get off Diuron.

“The APVMA should now move quickly to ensure their final decision on the toxic herbicide is made before the end of the partial suspension on 31 March 2012, after a decade of deliberation.”

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