THE AUSTRALIAN grains industry has resounding slapped down allegations from British lobby groups that the proposed Australian - United Kingdom free trade agreement will disadvantage British farmers because of what they claimed were Australia's less stringent chemical standards.
Groups such as the Soil Association, an organisation with links to the organic sector, and the Pesticide Action Network, came out with claims that Australia's environmental standards were lower than the UK and pointed to larger numbers of chemical registrations as examples of this.
However, Matthew Cossey, CropLife Australia chief executive said this argument was based on a flawed assumption.
"In Australia we have a lot more generic products and they are all registered, even though they are based on the same chemical," Mr Cossey said.
He said Australian and British farming systems were different, with different requirements.
"There are some products that we use that they don't and vice-versa, but it is simplistic to just look at the number of registrations," Mr Cossey said.
"We've got a world leading regulator in the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) that ensures any product that is registered is thoroughly tested."
Mr Cossey said Australian farmers had been on the front foot advocating for their industry.
"They have been fantastic, they have been really clear about pointing out the differences between cropping in the UK and Australia and how different products are used because of the different climatic conditions," he said.
Mr Cossey said Australian farmers had pointed out that pesticide use was on average lower in Australia, due primarily to the drier climate and that sustainability objectives were similar between the two countries.
Grain Growers chief executive David McKeon said Australian farmers were some of the most sustainable in the world.
"The evolution of Australian farming away from its traditional roots in European farm practices to methods more suited to our environment is amazing," Mr McKeon said.
"We've got really modern farming systems that are well designed for our environment, our farmers get great returns on low rainfall and allow us to farm sustainably, improving the soil for generations to come," he said.
"It is just not accurate to suggest there are lower standards regarding pesticide use in Australia."
"We've got some of the most respected regulators in the world, well regarded as being effective and efficient."
Mr McKeon said he did not expect the FTA to have massive direct implications for Australian grain.
"We have sold reasonable volumes of canola to the UK this year but that is unusual, reflecting the worldwide shortage of the product.
"Generally, given the big distances involved, we would not expect to send a lot of grain to the UK as the freight would make it uneconomic.
"We see the grains industry being involved more in a secondary way, as suppliers of grain to the dairy, beef and lamb industries that will have some good opportunities to win over greater market share as a result of the FTA."