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Friday, July 02, 2010

Further update on Plague Locust Commission

The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) website is self-contradictory.

In relation to its spraying regimes, it says:
T H E C O N T R O L A G E N T S
The APLC uses aerial spraying to control locust infestations deemed to be a threat to agricultural production. This involves using ULV (ultra-low
volume) spray equipment and the wind to distribute small droplets of control agent over the target area. The APLC uses 3 control agents:
fenitrothion, fipronil and Metarhizium (Green GuardTM). All these control agents are approved for use against locusts by the Australian Pesticides
and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Fenitrothion: This compound is an organophosphorous insecticide that acts on the locust's nervous system. It is the most commonly used chemical due to its low cost, availability and speed of action. Fenitrothion has been known to affect some bird and small mammal species elsewhere in the world as well as being acutely toxic to aquatic life, however this potential hazard is offset by the low operational dose used by the APLC. The APLC minimises the risks posed by fenitrothion by maintaining 1500 metre down wind buffer zones (no-spray areas) around dwellings, dams, waterways and identified environmentally sensitive areas.

Fipronil: A member of the phenyl pyrazole class of insecticides, fipronil also acts on the locust's nervous system. It has a longer residual life than fenitrothion. This means that a sprayed area can have a noticeable effect on a locust population up to 10 days after the initial treatment.
Because of this, fipronil is effective as a barrier treatment where treated and untreated swaths alternate. Persistence also means fipronil has the potential to be harmful to non-target wildlife.
The APLC uses fipronil at doses of less than 1g ai/ha. At this low dose fipronil proves to be a safe and effective control agent. The chemical compound is potentially harmful to aquatic ecosystems and downwind buffer zones are used to minimise this risk.

Metarhizium: A naturally occurring fungus that infects the locust, Metarhizium is a biological control agent known commercially as Green GuardTM. It has no withholding periods, no detectable residues and is approved for use on organic properties (NASAA, BFA certified). The fungus selectively infects locusts and grasshoppers and is mainly used by the APLC against infestations on organic properties and in environmentally sensitive areas.

The APLC is engaged in research to quantify and minimise sublethal impacts of fipronil and fenitrothion on wildlife. In addition, the APLC also
has a program of research to identify and, where appropriate, test potential new control agents particularly those which show promise in terms of
minimising potential detrimental effects. For example, at present the APLC plans to evaluate an insect growth regulator (IGR) which has a very low
toxicity to non-target wildlife and a relatively long residual life. This means an IGR has potential as an effective barrier treatment with minimal
consequences to the environment."
Source: Page 2 of PDG file on APLC website on Plague Locusts, (under "Environmental impacts")

However, on the facing page, in a table under "Control agent comparisons" it says for the three Chemicals listed above (in order) the impacts on fish are: Low/ Low/ Low
For Aquatic Arthropods is says the three chemicals pose the following risks: Moderate / Low/ Low

What?

The previous page had just told us: of one chemical: "The chemical compound is potentially harmful to aquatic ecosystems". Of the other it said: "acutely toxic to aquatic life"

What's going on here?


Who are they kidding? I
know they use low doses, but they make up for that by spraying vast areas of rural Queensland, NSW, north-west Victoria and South Australia.

Good to know they keep away from creeks, rivers, wetlands and farm dams, isn't it?


Oh, yes and they only spray in calm, conditions, don't they. No spray drift, right? Never!

2 comments:

daharja said...

I totally disagree with all spraying. Full stop. End of story.

If there are plagues of animals, something is out of kilter. Usually caused by man. We have to solve the problem, not throw more poison at the wound.

But what would I know? I'm one of those organic-loving hippy nuts!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Daharja
You "organic-loving Hippy nuts" are not alone.
Lots of the general population agree with your sentiments.
Thanks for the support.
Denis