Drug could present trade risk if approved, says NSW Farmers

By Country News

NSW Farmers has voiced opposition to the registration of a new beta agonist drug for use in the Australian beef feedlot sector, saying it presents a potential trade risk to meat exports.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association is currently considering the approval of Zilmax, a drug which uses the beta agonist, zilpeterol, as its active ingredient.

NSW Farmers Cattle Committee chair Derek Schoen said drugs like zilpeterol were banned in major beef export destinations like China, Taiwan and the European Union because of human health concerns associated with beta agonists.

“The registration of Zilmax here could lead to a ban on Australian meat exports to some countries,” Mr Schoen said.

“Last year, China banned all Canadian meat exports for five months because a beta agonist was detected in pork imported from Canada.

“Australia’s ‘clean and green’ status would also be tarnished if Zilmax were to be approved.

“Our reputation for producing clean and safe food is valued both at home and abroad, so we need to be careful to maintain it.”

Mr Schoen said NSW Farmers had advocated firmly against the approval of Zilmax, and that anyone opposed to the registration should make their opposition known.

“NSW Farmers has advocated alongside Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council to oppose the registration, and has engaged heavily with the APVMA’s public consultation on the matter,” he said.

“We are not disputing the science supporting the potential benefit of Zilmax to feedlot efficiency, but the drug’s use is not worth the trade risk it presents.

“Australian beef exports were worth almost $10.5 billion in 2019 alone.

“If we want Australian agriculture to become a $100 billion sector by 2020, we cannot jeopardise the profitability of one of its main contributing industries.”