4 Dec 2014

Industry wants time to change system

2:33 pm on 4 December 2014

The agricultural chemical industry is asking for more time to change to a new system of labelling for chemical and veterinary products.

The Environmental Protection Authority was seeking submissions on a proposal to adopt the latest version of a global system of classification and labelling for chemicals, which included safety information.

It was part of a wider Government move to update health and safety regulations.

The EPA wanted the switch to the global system to be made over a two-year period, starting from October next year.

But AgCarm, the body that represented most of New Zealand's crop protection and animal health companies, said two years was not enough time to make what would be complex changes.

Chief executive Graeme Peters said it was asking for five years.

"There's going to be some quite significant changes to the way that products are classified in terms of their hazard and because of those changes which we support because we're talking about a more modern approach.

"Every single label and every single safety data sheet will have to change and we are talking about thousands and thousands of these labels and safety information that hangs off these and the Government is wanting to do that in a two year period.

"Now that could be done if we actually knew on day one, yes, the label has to change and this is what it has to change to, but we won't know that.

"We are actually going to have to figure out, well what do the labels and the safety information have to change to. That's going to take time in itself.

"So, to say that all the labels and all the safety data sheets have to be changed in two years is just not realistic, it just cannot be done and it's setting an impossible target."

Mr Peters said while it was seeking more time, AgCarm supported nearly all of the changes proposed in the new chemical labelling system.