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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1848

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (20:24): I am pleased to be here to speak to this motion to increase the testing on imported orange juice concentrate. Carbendazim is a fungicide used in many countries to control diseases in some crops, including fruit trees. The honourable member who just spoke, the member for Mallee, raised a lot of concerns. Presently, two groups in Australia are currently in collaboration on this topic—the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which is responsible for the regulation of chemicals used on food crops in Australia, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of our food supplies and deciding safe residue levels of Carbendazim in foods that Australians consume. The food industry is a big manufacturing sector in Australia, and we export food as well. Many chemicals are used to get these products to the consumer.

As we get greener and cleaner there is an increasing awareness of fresh fruit and vegetables, and this includes orange juice. At present, Australians are consuming much more juice than we are producing—I think we are producing only something like 45 per cent of the orange juice consumed by Australian consumers. I take it on board that the United States has banned the use of this product, but their exports are in competition with Brazil's. That is not an unusual process.

I agree with the motion, with certain conditions. My principle is that we have Australian standards, which our farmers and manufacturers are bound by, and imported goods should meet those standards. We should set those rules. Australia currently has in place a maximum residue limit which allows the presence of 10 parts per million of Carbendazim in citrus products. That is the science that is being used in Australia. If that changes then I would be the first to say, 'Make sure we do it; make sure that we are on top of it,' but we must make these decisions in relation to science. It has already been stated in the House that an adult weighing 70 kilos would need to drink 140 litres of orange juice in one day to consume 10 parts per million of Carbendazim and a child would need to drink 40 litres of orange juice a day to receive the same 10 parts per million. Despite the information showing it is relatively safe from a health perspective one would always endeavour to err on the side of caution. I understand that there is an ongoing review process and consultation between the FSANZ and the APVMA, and they will continue to consult on this. They have now asked to extend the consultation for another 12 months. In that time they will continue to monitor the situation and will then report.

We are very strong on food safety, and so we should be. I know the member for Barker is very strong in representing his area in putting this motion forward. I congratulate him on doing it.