GHS does nothing for safety and has a high cost

NSW Farmers' Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Committee has discussed the requirement for agricultural chemicals to comply with the Globally Harmonised System of Chemical Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and is concerned the move will only cloud the safety directions provided to users of agricultural chemicals.

Requiring agricultural chemicals to comply with the Globally Harmonised System of Chemical Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was discussed at a meeting of the NSW Farmers Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals committee held in Orange last week. 

The committee’s concern was that GHS is likely to lead to worse safety outcomes while applying additional cost to the farm sector.

The problem with GHS is that it is only focused on the toxicological hazard of a chemical, not on how it is used in the farming workplace.  

This hazard based approach is similar to that used by activist groups to deliberately misrepresent the health risk posed by glyphosate; despite credible agencies, such as the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and the European Food Safety Agency, maintaining confidence in glyphosate. 

The APVMA uses a risk based approach to the registration and labelling of agricultural chemicals, combining the known science of a chemical with how it will be used in the farming workplace.  

The APVMA can only approve a chemical if its label includes a system of work that manages the safety risk to workers and bystanders in a way consistent with this scientific knowledge.

Mandating both approaches on the labels of agricultural chemicals will reduce certainty over the best way to safely use farm chemicals.  

In the worst cases, statements required by the application of GHS may even contradict the safe work directions supported by the scientific analysis required by the APVMA.

On top of these safety concerns, the application of GHS on agricultural chemicals will cost an additional $57 million; meaning farmers will pay for something that adds nothing to safety outcomes.

NSW Farmers is urging the NSW Government to support an exemption for agricultural chemicals similar to that provided to goods approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Contact: Reg Kidd, Chair Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Committee

Phone: 1300 794 000

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