Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to use its powers to investigate the regulations around recalls of agrochemical products.
Ms Sheed wrote to the ACCC chairman, Mr Rod Sims, following a series of articles in The Weekly Times newspaper that alleged agrochemical companies Syngenta, Nufarm and Crop Care had made little effort to inform farmers they had withdrawn several contaminated herbicides from sale.
The companies have refuted any wrongdoing in relation to their reporting obligations, but Ms Sheed said the situation highlighted a surprising lack of regulation regarding the dissemination of information to consumers of agrochemical products in circumstances such as those reported by The Weekly Times.
She said this was in stark difference to the demands made of food manufacturers, who are required by law to report any product safety issues to the ACCC – the details of which are then made publically available on the Product Safety Australia website and advertised in media outlets.
“It appears there is no legislation requiring the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which is the Federal Government chemical regulator, to publicise recalls (voluntary or otherwise) or publish information about recalls on its website,” Ms Sheed wrote.
“In addition, there also appears to be no legislation requiring agrochemical companies to report recalls to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”
Ms Sheed raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, asking the Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, to step into the void left by this lack of federal regulation.
The Minister advised she would ask Agriculture Victoria to seek an update from the APVMA on the status of the recall and to monitor its progress.
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