A Federal Government authority’s proposal to ban the use of a pesticide would destroy the $40 million stonefruit industry in the Perth Hills, according to growers.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has proposed suspending the use of fenthion on certain crops after a report found young children eating fruit treated with the pesticide could be exposed to unsafe levels of residues.
The Hills Orchard Improvement Group spokesman Brett DelSimone said fenthion was the only effective weapon growers had to protect crops from Mediterranean Fruit Fly infestation.
Mr DelSimone said if the pesticide was banned, about 300 growers across the State would lose their jobs because the fly would kill off 80 to 100 per cent of crops.
Mr DelSimone said this would push up the price of fruit such as peaches, nectarines and apricots by 300 to 400 per cent.
“It will completely destroy the industry and will make stonefruits a luxury item,” Mr DelSimone said.
“The APVMA has not produced any evidence that fenthion has caused any harm whatsoever to any human being.”
A spokeswoman for the APVMA admitted the report found the use of fenthion “could lead to exposures to levels of fenthion in treated products that reduce, but don’t breach, the margins of safety put in place to protect consumers.”
She said submissions from growers would be taken into account before a recommendation was made to the APVMA chief executive, who would decide whether to ban the pesticide.