Policy & Issues
Pest, Disease and Weed Control
While Australia is rightfully proud of the low level of chemical inputs in winegrape production, access to a wide range of pest and disease control technologies gives Australian winegrape producers a broader set of solutions to assist them to produce clean and healthy fruit sustainably. As new pests and diseases emerge, and as some pests and diseases develop resistance to existing control technologies, it becomes increasingly important that our industry ensures access to safe and effective solutions. Moreover, it is critical that there are control measures readily available in case of an emergency plant pest incursion.
Australian Grape & Wine supports a sustainable approach to viticulture that considers non-chemical alternatives to pesticides such as Integrated pest management (IPM). IPM combines the use of biological, cultural and chemical practices to control insect pests in agricultural production. Through the use of natural predators or parasites to control pests, beneficial insects are encouraged. Selective pesticides are used for backup when pests are unable to be controlled by natural means.
Maximum residue Limits (MRLs) act to ensure that agrichemicals found on a commodity are at a level that protects public health and safety and avoids chemical toxicity to fish or aquatic macro-invertebrates and/or terrestrial plants and animals. Safe levels are assessed through a scientific risk assessment and are set as low as reasonably achievable to provide effective control of pests and diseases. In Australia, MRLs for agrichemicals are set by APVMA. MRLs are not likely to be exceeded if agrichemicals are used in accordance with their approved label instructions. MRLs also set precedents for international trade in food and therefore should be monitored carefully to ensure compliance with differing countries’ MRL standards.
Sudden changes to regulations by Government have the potential to be disruptive and costly for Australian grape and wine producers. Australian Grape & Wine provides input and oversight into the implementation of MRL policy and access to agrichemicals both in Australia and in International trading economies, providing an important safeguard for industry against a tightening regulatory environment. Thus, industry has a role in ensuring that they comply with best practice use and adhere to legal responsibilities regarding the label guidelines. Australian Grape & Wine commits to providing leadership to industry with regards to driving comprehensive protocols and practices that ensure safe use and avoidance of spray drift (chemical trespass).
Australian Grape & Wine supports the following principles with regards to Agrichemical use and regulation:
The grape and wine industry (including vineyard owners, viticulturists and contractors) commit to:
- a sustainable approach to pest, disease and weed management that considers biodiversity preservation, non-chemical alternatives and avoidance of environmental harm.
- a careful and safe approach to agrichemical use in accordance with approved label instructions.
- adoption of best practice in terms of dose rate, avoidance of over-use and timing of applications to avoid spray drift.
- adherence to recommendations for nozzle configurations and spray application regulations that prevent spray drift.
- adherence to APVMA operating principles in relation to spray drift risk management.
- ongoing research into the impact of agrichemical inputs on environment and public health.
- a transparent and scientific evidence-based approach to risk assessments and to inform regulatory decisions.
- flexibility to adapt relatively quickly to changes in the environment that may require chemical intervention such as biosecurity issues.
- that the Australian Government sets MRLs at levels deemed safe to public health.
- that the Australian Government sets MRLs that minimise pesticide risk to the environment.
- harmonisation of MRLs according to a standard internationally accepted level of pesticide control for each commodity .
- harmonisation of MRLs across commodity groups where possible.
- minimisation of technical barriers to trade relating to agrichemicals and MRLs.
- rapid identification and response to potential trade barriers before they provide problems.