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Opposition urges more effort in biological control of weeds



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BRUCE LLOYD I sV i- k W W h M w A vi

Media Release Forfurther information.: Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Telephone: Facsimile:

06/2774193 06/2772063

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O P P O S IT IO N URGES MORE E FFO R T I N B IO L O G IC A L CONTROL O F WEEDS

The Federal Opposition has called upon experts at the First International Weed Congress in Melbourne to find biological control agents for weeds to reduce the need for agricultural chemicals which are currently a necessary part of the production of food and fibre.

National Party Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, Bruce Lloyd, who addressed the congress, said the role of Government was to balance the concerns of landholders, consumer, the environment and the cost to the nation.

Mr Lloyd said this was done by weighing up the arguments before allowing chemicals to be used, or by taking them off the market if later information showed they were not safe, or there were better ways of controlling the problems.

"It also means providing money for research to ensure that wherever possible, weeds are eliminated through good farming techniques or biological control.

"Nobody wants to use chemicals in the form of herbicides or weedicides, and they will not if there are better, more cost effective ways of controlling weeds that will not add to soil erosion or compaction."

Mr Lloyd told the congress that as a farmer, as well as a

politician, he recognised the dilemma of cost and of safety, against the need to control and eradicate weeds for farm

management, product quality and to prevent land degradation.

He said Australia already had been successful in developing biological control agents for Paterson's Curse, blackberries, prickly pear and the water weed slavinia, but it was a long and slow process.

"The reality is that herbicides will be an essential part of food production for an increasing world population for many years, not only to product enough food, but to prevent soil degradation."

Mr Lloyd said Australian agriculture generally had a proud record of producing agricultural produce very low in chemical residues.

"This is because our broadacre farming does not require the heavy use of chemicals demanded in countries with more intensive agricultural practices.

"This clean food image should be used more effectively in

promoting our products internationally," he said.

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COMMONWEALTH P A R L IA M E N T A R Y LIBRARY M IC A H

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Mr Lloyd however pointed to some gaps in the research budget.

Federal and State Government are reducing their agricultural research commitments and the international chemical companies do not allocate a significant percentage of their research budget for Australia.

He said there were also some negatives despite Australia's excellent co-operative research system between farmers and Government with dollar for dollar finance up to 0.5 per cent of the gross value of the product of the particular industry or product.

"This type of funding will provide research finance for weeds if they are impacting on a major agricultural industry such as wheat, wool or meat, and CSIRO is receiving money from these industries for biological control research on skeleton weed, St

John's Wort, common heliotrope, Paterson's Curse and three thistles, but thee is no money if the weeds impact only on a

small industry."

Another problem was that researchers could not be absolutely certain about the amount of money that would be available because research finance went up and down with commodity prices and production.

end 20/2/92