Department admits it has ‘little information’ on pesticide residue in Australian food


Federal authorities have admitted they have “little information” about the extent of pesticide residues in Australian food or their potential environmental damage, a document seen by the Guardian shows.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry called for tenders in May this year for a study to identify the gaps in Australia’s data collection on pesticides.

The advertisement, published on Austender in May, says: “There is little data currently available to the department regarding human health or environmental fate of [agricultural and veterinary] chemicals in Australia in ‘field’ conditions.”

Australia’s regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals used in the production of food came under the spotlight this year in a UK parliamentary inquiry examining the UK-Australia free trade agreement.

Environmental groups expressed alarm that Australia permits the use of 70 agricultural chemicals banned or withdrawn from use in Europe because of concerns about their impact on health or the environment. Many have been banned for years.

In its report, the parliamentary committee noted the concerns of UK agri-food producers that the agreement increases UK market access for food produced in ways that would be illegal in Britain, making for unfair competition.

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The Guardian, 30-09-22