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Proposed regulatory decision for malathion

Pest and Disease Management

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has published its proposed regulatory decision in relation to the authority’s review of malathion (also known as maldison), an insecticide used for the control of pests in a range of horticulture crops including apples and pears, broadacre crops and vegetables, and in domestic and veterinary situations. There are currently 20 products registered by the APVMA containing malathion, 5 of which include uses on apples and pears.

What are the key proposed changes to product labels that will affect apple and pear growers?

  • The maximum number of applications per season for horticultural crops will be limited to 4, unless otherwise specified on current labels. This limitation will not apply to fruit fly control using lures or baits where the product is not applied to fruit.
  • Applications by airblast methodology will be restricted to application using closed cabs.
  • Spray drift restraints and no-spray buffer zones will be included on all product labels. Each application method and rate of application will require different buffer zones, and the proposed spray drift restraints and mandatory no-spray buffer zones are outlined in Appendix A of the Malathion Review Technical Report.
  • Application rates for ultra-low volume (ULV) applications by aircraft will be reduced to rates where acceptable mandatory no-spray buffer zones protective of sensitive areas (natural aquatic areas, pollinators, livestock and human health) can be established.
  • All products will be date controlled, include an expiry date on the label (current products will have a shelf life of 2 years) and the requirement to be stored below 30°C.
  • Additional environmental protection requirements will apply specifically to protect pollinators and aquatic life. The environment protection statements will typically be:
    • “Toxic to bees. DO NOT apply to crops from the onset of flowering until flowering is complete. Do not apply or allow spray drift to flowering weeds, plants or crops in the vicinity of the treatment area, except when applications are made to prevent or control a threat to public and/or animal health determined by the relevant state or territory authority. Before spraying, notify beekeepers to move hives to a safe location with an untreated source of nectar and pollen, if there is potential for managed hives to be affected by the spray or spray drift.”
    • “Very toxic to aquatic life. DO NOT contaminate wetlands or watercourses with this product or used containers.”
  • Safety directions for each product will be updated. As these are product specific, please refer to the Malathion Review Technical Report for the updated directions.
  • Most state-based restrictions on use patterns will be removed.
  • All aerial applications will be limited to the use of closed mixing and loading.
  • The use of backpack ULV and backpack foggers will be removed due to the risk to user safety.
  • Disposal instructions will be updated.

Please refer to the Malathion Review Technical Report for more information about the proposed changes.

What happens next?

The APVMA has published the proposed regulatory decision for a 3-month public consultation closing 23 February 2023.

During the consultation period, the APVMA invites submissions from stakeholders, including holders, and the general public, on the proposed decisions.

Once the public consultation period has concluded, the APVMA will consider the submissions received and whether the matters raised would change any aspects of the proposed decision before making its final decision and taking regulatory action.

How do I make a submission?

Information on how to make a submission is available on the APVMA website.

When making your submission, clearly identify the issue and clearly state your point of view and give reasons for your comments. If possible, support your comments with relevant scientific information and refer each point to the relevant section in the Draft Statement of Reasons or the Malathion Review Technical Report.

Submissions will be published on the APVMA website unless you ask for your submission to remain confidential in your public submission coversheet.

I have malathion product; can I still use it?

Yes. As this is a proposed decision, malathion products registered by the APVMA can continue to be used according to the approved label directions.

When the APVMA publishes its final regulatory decision, it will vary the most recent labels for malathion to reflect the outcomes of the review.

The final regulatory decision is expected to be made in mid-2023. At that time, the APVMA will provide advice around phase-out periods and how product with old labels can be legally held and used.

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