Diuron and the Great Barrier Reef – A review of the latest science
The role of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is to ensure that all registered products “will have no harmful or unintended effects on people, animals, the environment or international trade ”. Although under review since 2002, the continued registration of diuron contradicts this role as it has clearly been shown to have harmful and unintended effects on the marine and freshwater environment. Numerous scientific publications demonstrating both its presence in, and negative effects on, aquatic ecosystems have been released since the diuron review process began and many have been published in the last few months of 2011 and early 2012 providing compelling Australian evidence about the environmental fate and effects of diuron in the Great Barrier Reef. The combined result of these studies is that diuron:
• Represents a clear threat to the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems
• Is the dominant herbicide entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its catchments
• Is persistent in the environment and so cannot be controlled seasonally
• Acts in concert with other pesticides and stressors
• Is reducing the resilience of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef
The following summary highlights arguments for the removal of diuron from use within the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef and signals that other catchments may also be at risk.