31 March 2022
Australian agriculture has a national goal to reach $100 billion by 2030 through increased productivity, market access and diversification.
It’s an ambitious goal in the face of climate change impacts, resource scarcity and invasive pests and weeds. Australian farming will need new innovations to succeed in this ambitious quest, especially from the plant science sector. Australia’s registration and regulatory systems need to be efficient, science based and independent if the plant science industry’s innovations are able to be accessed and assist Australia’s farmers.
The organic, synthetic and biological pesticide products and new chemical innovations farmers need to drive productivity, face a longer and proportionately more costly path to market compared to Australia’s major international agricultural competitors such as Canada, the US and South American countries.
In 2021 a review of the pesticides and veterinary medicines regulatory system in Australia (The Matthews Review) identified many procedural inefficiencies in regulation and registration costs. Unfortunately, rather than address the primary need for better access to new crop protection products by farmers, it proposed duplicated and costly layers of bureaucracy where credible and effective (albeit inefficient) systems already exist.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) currently regulates and evaluates chemicals for risk, based on unique Australian crops, pests and environmental conditions using a science based, independent framework.
If the major recommendations from the Matthews Review were implemented, an entirely unnecessary chemical re-review system based on the European Union’s (EU) would be established. The EU re-evaluation system is based on arbitrary time frames, not on science or data. If anything, this would only prevent farmers from having access to products that have been safely and responsibly used for years and bury Australia’s regulatory system in unnecessary red tape.
Australians need world class agricultural practices and innovative crop protection products to ensure productivity, sustainability and profitability of farming now and into the future. Therefore, the answer is not a new regulatory system. The current one is not broken. What we need is well considered, targeted efficiency improvements in the regulatory system and fewer hurdles for investment in the Australian market.
What we need is well considered, targeted efficiency improvements in the regulatory system and fewer hurdles for investment in the Australian market.