The Australian Greens have expressed concern over reports that significant levels of dangerous ingredients, long thought to be eliminated from manufacturing process of weed killer, have been found in some generic brands of herbicide.
"This is an alarm bell for all Australians who handle chemicals, whether at home, on the farm, or for natural resource management purposes," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.
"We need to be able to trust that our regulator has the capacity to keep dangerous chemicals off the shelves, but I am concerned that the chemical registration regime in Australia still isn't right, despite recent legislative changes.
"The regulator is not looking for these risks and are not properly empowered to tackle dangerous chemicals that have been grandfathered into the modern scheme. How are they going to keep up with all of these generic products that have been presumed to be 'safe'?
"The Australian Greens advocated for a definition of unmanageable risk in the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) legislative framework, passed by Parliament in June, in order to give the regulator more teeth in its work. This would have provided a trigger to quickly de-register chemicals that pose significant risk to human health and our environment.
"Without this trigger, the APVMA can still take a very long time to deal with chemicals that we know are hazardous.
"I hope for the sake of all those people who aren't aware of the risks they are being exposed to, that the APVMA is able to act quickly in this instance to remove any chemicals that have dioxins present, despite this not being part of its testing regime anymore.
"If the APVMA can't move quickly, then we need to question the decision of the old parties to deny the chemicals regulator proper teeth," concluded Senator Siewert.