Misinformation is the greatest threat to the Reef

    30 November 2011

    Tired claims are again being propagated regarding the impact of any use of diuron to the Great Barrier Reef, with no evidence to support a campaign filled with misinformation and inaccuracies.

    WWF instead should have been applauding the nation’s regulator, the APVMA, for undertaking an effective and science based approach, maintaining access to essential tools for Australia’s farmers while protecting our unique environment.

    CropLife and its members are committed to the safe, responsible and sustainable use of agricultural chemical products. This includes promoting practices that help minimise any risk that agricultural chemicals might present to the Great Barrier Reef. CropLife is dedicated to ensuring that any impact that pesticides might have is identified and addressed proactively and positively.

    The regulatory system for modern agricultural chemistry ensures health and environmental safety and provides specific use instructions so that products are then used in a way that don’t damage sensitive areas, such as the Reef.

    The partnership between industry, the regulator and producers is exactly what is required when assessing any

    kind of removal of product from such an area, as these are the people with the knowledge, skills and agricultural experience to recognise the dire consequences of acting in haste. However, it is the APVMA alone, acting as the independent, professional and scientific body that makes the actual decision.

    Criticising the regulator for undertaking a solution that assesses all proven, realistic and scientific impacts is not helpful nor will it help the Reef. Unsubstantiated claims and misleading statements regarding the impact of pesticides have the potential to result in restrictions upon legitimate, critical tools for the Australian farming sector. The regulator itself recognises that diuron presents no threat to the Reef. The regulatory actions taken

    by the APVMA were to protect fresh water ecosystems. They do that based on science, data and evidence – not ideology.

    WWF has been desperately campaigning on the same, unsubstantiated claims for the complete removal of diuron, not understanding that its removal will only cause producers to rely on more environmentally damaging options, such as tillage, which causes sediment to actually reach the Reef. This is a genuine risk, and potentially more harmful to the Reef than any risk from the responsible use of chemicals.

    When making decisions about the possible impact of crop protection products on the environment and human health, we need to ensure that reliable and repeatable science is the basis for all decision making.