31 March 2022
The last 10 years have been tough on the APVMA, a sentiment echoed by its performance record. However, its return to minimum performance standards offers a crucial opportunity for the agricultural sector to go further.
It’s been a record breaking few years for Australian farmers, buoyed by optimal growing conditions and market prices. Timely farmer access to new pesticides and technology has also played an important role in the nation’s economic outlook. Now as the APVMA returns to approvals of pesticide registration within statutory timeframes and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s time for a step change.
Targeted and considered improvements to Australia’s agvet regulatory system, now, will ensure the delivery of timely innovations to farmers through an efficient regulator that responds to scientific principles and data independently of politically driven decisions.
It’s essential that any APVMA reforms take lessons from the past if it is to maintain its global credentials and serve the Australian farming sector by enabling access to the right agricultural chemicals at the right time.
See what it takes to get a new pesticide to market:
Screening (4-5 years)
• Developers screen thousands of chemicals to find one that safely addresses a specific pest problem. Less than one in every 140,000 makes it into a pesticide.
Research (3-4 years)
• Developers test products in greenhouses to simulate real-world situations and evaluate effectiveness and potential negative effects.
• Products that make it past this phase are assessed closely to determine potential for adverse health effects in human, animals or the environment. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) mandates more than 200 individual tests to ensure its safety.
Evaluation (1.5-3 years)
• Once developers have completed the required research and tests on a pesticide, they submit the data to the APVMA for independent assessment according to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code.
• The APVMA only registers a product if there is sufficient scientific data to show the product does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment and that it serves its useful purpose.
Re-evaluation and special review
• If at any time new information or scientific data indicate a pesticide could pose an unacceptable risk, the information is evaluated and appropriate action taken.
• Many things can trigger a reconsideration like new manufacturer data, new public scientific data or a cancelled registration by a similar regulator.
In all, it can take longer than a decade and more than $350 million (AUD) for a new pesticide to get to market.