Dangerous pesticide use nipped in the bud

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) conducted compliance campaigns targeting vegetable farmers and flower growers in Sydney this year aiming to nip in the bud any inappropriate pesticide use.

EPA Executive Director of Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Sarah Gardner said some pesticides can be toxic to the environment, people and wildlife, if used inappropriately.

Inspections were carried out from March to July this year and involved nineteen vegetable farms growing a range of vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, various herbs, bok choy, snake beans, snow peas, chillies, zucchini, beetroot, leeks, artichoke, gherkins and pumpkin.

A further twelve farms growing a range of flowers, including gerberas, roses and native flowers were also inspected.

“The campaigns were generally aimed at educating growers about their responsibilities however, as a result of the inspections fifteen farmers received official cautions and another fifteen notices were also issued showing that growers need to keep on their toes to make sure they are following the rules and regulations that keep the community safe,” Mrs Gardner said.

“EPA inspectors looked at how pesticides were being applied and checked for compliance with record keeping, labelling and training requirements and for overall compliance with the regulations.

“These farms are sometimes located close to households and urban environments, increasing the potential for impacts on the neighbouring community if pesticides are used incorrectly.

“In addition to potential local impacts, it is critical that pesticides are applied appropriately by vegetable growers as they are producing food for consumers.”

The campaigns focused on flower and vegetable growers located in Horsley Park and Kemps Creek in western Sydney and in Dural and Glenorie in north western Sydney.

The EPA issued fifteen letters to farmers for conducting activities and using pesticides without appropriate chemical certification. 

The EPA also issued fifteen advisory letters to remind growers of their responsibilities to clearly identify on their records where pesticides were applied on their farms, to store pesticides appropriately and to ensure that pesticide containers are adequately labelled.

Mrs Gardner said farmers were co-operative during inspections and were receptive to taking action to become fully compliant with regulatory requirements.

“The EPA will be contacting the growers who received official cautions to ensure they are taking action to become compliant with the regulations.”

If people suspect inappropriate pesticide use they can report it to the EPA Environment Line on 131 555.

Further information on pesticides is available on the EPA website here: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pesticides/pesticides.htm