Regulator issues warning on ag chemical permits

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Holders of agricultural and veterinary chemical permits are warned to stick closely to the requirements of their permits or face the legal consequences, according to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Regulator issues warning on ag chemical permits
APVMA warns agricultural chemical permit holders to stick to permit requirements

The warning comes hard on the heels of an APVMA permit holder, Jotun, being convicted and fined $22,000 after pleading guilty to two charges in the Sunshine (Victoria) Magistrates Court on Friday.

Jotun was charged under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 (Cth) for import offences, and the Victorian Agvet Code for supply offences.

APVMA's Regulatory Strategy and Compliance Program Manager Neville Matthew says he's disappointed with an apparent trend of companies failing to respect the conditions of permits.

"We will continue to tackle permit non-compliance with vigour in the coming year," he says.

"The dollar value of penalties has recently increased and with reform legislation currently being considered by the Australian Parliament this year, the APVMA's compliance powers are likely to be enhanced, as are the maximum penalties for specific offences."

Jotun is a multinational company based in Norway, with an Australian office in Victoria. It produces a range of marine anti-fouling products that are applied to vessels to prevent or treat the build-up of barnacles, seaweed and so on.

Anti-fouling products fit the definition of an agricultural chemical product in the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 and must be registered by the APVMA before being sold or used in Australia.

Several permits for two unregistered Jotun products were issued from 2003-09 to enable research data to be collected and used in an application for full product registration. Revised permits were issued in late 2009.

"In this case, Jotun was allowed to conduct research on unregistered products through the issue of permits. These permits have limitations both in time and scale that are appropriate to that purpose. Jotun breached those limits," Matthew says.

"APVMA permit holders are on notice: the APVMA will be scrutinising many more permits this year."

The APVMA is an independent statutory authority responsible for the assessment and registration of agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines and for their regulation up to and including the point of retail sale.

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