Syngenta defends herbicide paraquat

Publish time: 4th June, 2014      Source:
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June 4, 2014



Syngenta defends herbicide paraquat






Syngenta has commissioned a report into the economic benefits of the use of the herbicide paraquat, valuing the product''s worth to the Australian agriculture sector at AUD1.3 billion (US$1.20 billion).



Paraquat is distributed by the company under the trade names Gramoxone and Spray Seed, and plays a critical role in Australian cropping as the only viable break to glyphosate in terms of a pre-cropping knockdown. Should it be banned, without a differing mode of action, authorities say weeds would quickly become resistant to glyphosate in no-till cropping systems.



The controversy arose due to the herbicide''s high toxicity to humans in its concentrated form and because of its close relationship to the deadly chemical weapon Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War.



However, Syngenta specialty crops manager Sam Hole said, like all agricultural chemicals it was safe when used according to the label.



Hole said the decision to put the report out was designed as a positive step to highlight paraquat''s contribution to agriculture and the impact of deregistering the product. Findings from the report, compiled by analysts Deloitte Access Economics, were handed down at an event in Canberra, attended by MPs last week.



"We''re really comfortable with the product, it is under continued rigorous scrutiny by the chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which is regarded worldwide as a science-based organisation, and it has not found anything adverse in its usage," Hole said.



Hole said paraquat was used in over 100 countries across the globe, including New Zealand, Japan and the United States. It is currently banned in Europe, but he accused lobbyists of running an emotive campaign to stop its usage there.