Saturday, January 30, 2010


Following an article that appeared in The Paarl Post of  26 November 2009 ( see on right hand side), Tatib had the following to say :

We refer to your article titled "Hay Fever Blues" as published in Paarl Post on 26 November 2009, and comment as follows :-

It is a well documented fact that exposure to pesticides causes "hay fever" symptoms - upper respiratory tract irritation / infection, sinus problems, asthma to name but a few.
Exposure to pesticides may also cause more serious problems like central nervous system damage, respiratory problems and even cancer.
It is unlawful, as per Act 36 of 1947, to spray your vineyards in such a way that spray drift ( of pesticides) is allowed to be blown into the residential areas.
The medical effects of unlawful spray drift have been well documented in the Western Cape and internationally.
Many of the pesticides that are used on the vineyards ( in Paarl , Stellenbosch, Franschhoek etc) have been banned in over 62 countries as they are considered to be highly toxic - yet in South Africa ( which is a 3rd World Country) they are still in use.
Every citizen has the right to live in an environment that is not harmful to his/her health and well being - this is enshrined in The Constitution.
Your reporter seems to feel "that this is a small price to pay for living in this magnificent valley". This statement is highly irresponsible and is an indication of the attitude that seems to be so prevalent. ie you either allow us to poison you with pesticides or you move back to Cape Town. Yes Paarl is beautiful and the vineyards do add to this beauty. But there should never be an attitude along the lines as people need to pay this small price . One cannot and should not peg a price on ones health, especially when it has been medically proven ( the research is there) that exposure to agricultural pesticides causes far more serious illnesses than "Hay Fever ".

If you would like more information and would like to engage in responsible reporting, then we suggest that you contact us and we will prepare a formal press release in which all the facts are clearly placed before you, so that you can enlighten your readers as to the dangers posed by the pesticides sprayed on the adjacent vineyards and then also their constitutional rights. Several doctors & medical practitioners actually attended TATIB's meeting and they too have confirmed that they have a large number of patients suffering from exposure to pesticides. You are sitting on a ticking time bomb. You need to alert your local Municipality for the sake of all your health, especially your children.

Tatib Foundation

On 12 December, Tatib received an email from a Malcolm Gordon as follows :-

Pesticides can cause hay fever Paarl Post 10-12-2009
Can you provide me with any more information relating to your organisation and the abovementioned article.
 Thank you,

Malcolm Gordon

We replied to Malcolm and forwarded to him details of our launch , attaching "What's your Poison" to the email.  We never received a response from Malcolm, nor a request for further information.

On 14 January 2010, Paarl Post published the following letter :

Pesticide harmful or not?

I REFER to the letter from TATIB “Pesticides can cause hay fever” and the article “Hay fever blues”.

Every year around Spring time, reports surface about hay fever occurring amongst people staying in agricultural communities. These symptoms are often blamed on the application of pesticides.

At this time many grasses and other plants are flowering and the pollen generated, I would suggest, would be more likely to cause some of the symptoms such as hay fever, upper respiratory tract irritation, sinus problems and asthma mentioned by TATIB.

The Nocebo effect (cf Placebo) should also be considered. This effect manifests when a subject has a pessimistic belief and expectation that an inert substance will cause harmful consequences and results in the subject believing he or she is adversely affected.

I firmly believe that we need watchdog bodies in society who keep a critical eye open on all matters that could affect our health and well-being and who prevent unwanted practises going unseen in our communities. However, it is not helpful when sweeping statements are made by those seeking attention for their cause.

The suggestion that the application of pesticides in our farming areas will cause “central nervous system damage, respiratory problems and even cancer” is untrue and irresponsible.

The statement “Many of the pesticides that are used on the vineyards in places like Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek have been banned in other countries as they are considered to be highly toxic” is false.

Farmers who export their wine, grapes or fruit are required to follow pest control programmes which are very strictly monitored down to farm level by our own authorities and the countries and their supermarkets that receive these products.

Products used for crop protection are developed by responsible international companies who take great care to ensure their safety when used as prescribed.

It takes ten years from the discovery of a new chemical up to commercial use. In this time the toxicology of the product is intensively researched and studies on toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and mammalian reproduction are done.

In addition, environmental studies are undertaken to determine e.g. the effect on beneficial organisms such as bees, naturally occurring predatory insects and micro-organisms. Approximately one third of the total cost of the development of a product (±150 million 1999) is spent on toxicology and environmental studies.

At the turn of the last century, Vine Sulphur dust was found to control the devastating powdery mildew on grapes.

Used at up to 20 kilograms a hectare it was extensively used for many years in the Cape winelands. Contact with this dust can cause extreme eye irritation, burning throat and other respiratory symptoms.

We have come a long way since then and well-researched products applied at a fraction of this rate give good pest control results with minimum effect on man and his environment.

Products used in crop protection today are generally increasingly safer to humans and the environment and this should be recognised.

This increasing emphasis on safety has been driven by the manufacturers’ own conscience and an ever watchful public eye.

Malcolm Gordon

We responded via email to Malcolm, copied to the Paarl Post as follows :-

Dear Malcolm

In reaction to your letter in The Paarl Post :-

It is rather unfortunate that you have taken the approach that you have - but as the saying goes " there are none so blind as those who dont want to see"

Are you a medical practitioner or are you part of the farming  / agrochemical industry ?

We have attached the latest amendments to Act 36 of 1947 and then also details of what is sprayed on the average vineyard in the Western Cape (we have written notifications from farmers to back up the accuracy of this list ), together with a Synoptic List prepared by the LRC (UCT) after extensive research. You obviously did not take the time to read "whats your poison" which was included in the email that we sent to you after you made contact under the pretext of wanting to know more.If you do further research, you will quickly see that many of the products ( as per attached list) that are used in South Africa have indeed been banned in other countries. The reason that they have been banned is because they are dangerous to both human and environmental health. That is the reason why they have been banned.

We have also attached a few "Product Labels" which are the statutory documents that are dispatched (under act 36 of 1947) with each and every agricultural chemical that is registered for use in South Africa.  Go and take a look at the side effects ( and special warnings)  of Dichlorvos, Dicarzol & Thioflo. Thioflo, contains Endosulphan, which has been widely used in the vineyards of the Western Cape. After further research, following numerous incidents in which many people exposed to Endosluphan have died, the Manufacturers of this product have been told ( by the international agencies) to cease all manufacture of this product and to recall all stockpiles of it . Endosulphan has now, we have been told, been banned from being used  in Agriculture. Dichlorvos is an organophosphate poison, which happens also to be a known neurotoxin. It was developed during WWII as a chemical warfare agent. All 3 mentioned are classified as Class1b Highly Hazardous Compounds by both the WHO & National Dept of Agriculture ( their 1b classification is clearly printed on their product labels).  Take note of the withholding period of Dicarzol - ie how long it remains active on certain fruit after being sprayed and the clear warning that one must under no circumstances enter the vineyard within 2 days of the product being applied unless wearing protective clothing. Now what happens when this product gets blown into a residential garden or house?  We have seen several photos and videos showing spray drift blowing into the residential areas bordering vineyards and so there is no disputing the fact that spray drift does indeed occur.

The Registrar of Pesticides ( Nat Dept of Agriculture) after a recent conference-workshop in JHB between 6-8 Dec 2009, stated that pesticides are designed to kill and that changes are going to have to be made to the legislation in this country. If you would like his contact details please feel free to contact us.

To state that the "Placebo Effect"  is to blame for the high number of people suffering from pesticide related symptoms is grossly incorrect. There are many doctors and specialsts (even in Paarl) who believe that exposure to pesticides is causing health problems. Again many case studies have been done. You need to go back and do some more homework. We have attached an article written by Professor Leslie London that appeared in the Cape Times a few years ago. He has done several in depth studies on pesticide spray drift and resulting ill health.He has also written many books on the subject. We suggest that you contact him and allow him the opportunity to enlighten you further. We do not profess to be pesticide experts, nor do we profess to be medical experts - we are an organisation composed of concerned residents,parents, students & farmers. There also happen to be a number of doctors, specialists and medical practitioners as part of Tatib. There is still a lot of work to be done. We could put you in touch with many doctors/specialists in Paarl who will enlighten you to the fact that there are a large number of ill people as a result of spray drift. One of the  local doctors has stated that he regularly treats a farmer from Citrusdal, who ends up in a well known private clinic in Paarl ,with serious poisoning due to the pesticides that he sprays on his citrus orchards.

If you do some research into the "multinational chemical giants" you will soon realise that they have in many instances been fined and or found guilty after it has been shown that they have been misleading the public and or poisoning people by means of the spray drift from their products. This has been well documented and cannot be denied. The testing that they carry out is not on humans but rather on laboratory mice and rats, and more than often ( as many renowned professors will state) its more than often the cocktail of pesticides that is more harmful than the actual individual ones - which is why in the amended act there is  specific mention of  the mix /cocktail of pesticides.Also it has been proven that the so called "inert" ingredients or "carrier products" are often more toxic than the active ingredients.

Clearly the alleged "environmental studies" that you say are undertaken as part of the product development are just not good enough - if you do your research properly you will soon see that the dwindling honey bee population has been found ( and proven) to have been caused by the use of insecticides in agriculture. The persistent organic pollutants  ( like DDT, Lindane and many others) that were supposedly tried and tested and found to be safe for use and harmless to the environment, have now been found to be so toxic that they have been banned worldwide, and furthermore that they never break down ( hence the term Persistent Organic Pollutants) in the environment.

Vine Sulphur Dust - is still used in the vineyards to combat various fungal infections, and its used at a rate of a lot more than 20kg per hectare (we have been told)  - and according to the manufacturers, its totally harmless - this in contradiction to your statement that it causes extreme eye, throat and respiratory problems. Its also rated with a hazard 4 rating if our memory serves us correct.

Chlorpyriphos ( which you will probably know was used a lot in the domestic garden ) is now in the process of being banned for use ( in South Africa) in the garden, and will be severely restricted insofar its Agricultural use is concerned, because after decades of being on the market, it has been found to be extremly toxic - hence its imminent withdrawl from the South African market . Its already been banned in other countries.

Another well known product  , Dithane, used in most rose gardens (and on vineyards to control powdery mildew) , is only rated 3 on the hazard list. Yet its on a number of international carcinogen lists ( ie its been tested and studied and found to be a carcinogen). Its also on a number of endocrine disruptor and reproductive/developmental toxin lists ( again after extensive research and case studies).  Professor Leslie London, of UCT, is studying this product because it contains Manganese, which is a known Neurotoxin.

Yes, farmers who export their fruit and wine are required to, for example, be EurepGap/ GlobalGap certified. However this does not mean that when they spray they are (a) not using harmful pesticides  (b) spraying according to the law and according to product label. What EurepGap/GlobalGap looks at are the farmer's spray records so as to ensure that the proper "withholding periods" are adhered to. Now bear in mind that this is only for export produce. The Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) of Europe, tested 40 bottles of wine from across the world. According to the press release, one bottle of wine ( from Stellenbosch) was found to contain 2 toxic and banned pesticides.  In another study, done by Professor Leslie London, on the farms around Stellenbosch, large quantities of banned POPs were found - for example over 2 tonnes of DTT, Endosulphan etc.  The certification by the international bodies does NOT look at the method of application nor does it look at whether or not any innocent residents were sprayed in the process. And so for a farmer to say that he must be doing things right, as he is GlobalGap certified means nothing.

In closing however, we do agree that the chemical companies are starting to become more and more aware of the safety aspects of these products and we are happy to see that they are developing safer alternatives, largely due to the concerns raised by the public.  We firmly believe that the "precautionery principle" be applied to all chemicals - and that is that one must assume that a chemical is toxic until such time as it has been proven to be safe, and not the other way round. Too many chemicals that were considered to be safe for use, ended up being highly toxic after reasearch done years after they were released. The case studies are there. Look at DDT , Thalidomide, Lindane, Endosulphan to name but a few.

We invite you to attend the next meeting where you will be free to ask as many questions as you like.

Kind regards


Tatib followed up with another email sent to both Malcolm & Paarl post on 16 January 2010 :-

Dear Malcolm,

Now that we know, you are Bayer's Regional Manager for Product Development, we understand your opinion  ( we "googled" you !!)

But then, Bayer of course is in the business of making money from the sale of pesticides.

Were you acting in your personal capacity when you wrote the article, or on behalf of Bayer ?

Does Bayer advertise in the Paarl Post ?

Perhaps you could confirm the accuracy of the  following  that we found via "Google "  ( and then post your reply in the Paarl Post ) :-




















 There appear to be many, many more lawsuits , judgements against Bayer and the above may just the tip of the iceberg.  We cannot of course confirm that all the above are correct - we only came across these details after doing a "Google search" on "Bayer" . It does however appear that Bayer are not alone, other chemical giants (who also produce pesticides) seem to have long lists of lawsuits & judgements against them.

Perhaps this should all be published so that the public ( those being poisoned) can do their own research ?

On 27 January 2010, Tatib received a copy of a letter sent to The Paarl Post :-

The Editor
Paarl Post

Friday, 22 January 2010

Dear Sir,

Pesticide Spray practices

With reference to the letter by Malcolm Gordon, published in the Paarl Post on 14 January 2010.

Perhaps it would have been appropriate if Mr Gordon had included his title of Regional Manager for Product Development – Bayer when signing his letter. That way, readers would be able to understand his letter in the context of representing one of the larger pesticide manufacturers. A simple Google search will show the volume of pesticide related court cases his company is facing.

I make no claims of being a chemist, but surely once the chemicals are released into the atmosphere those chemicals will react to whatever is in the atmosphere?

The toxicology impact of the chemicals used in our area will no doubt be highlighted in the research project currently being conducted by Professor London of UCT.

Let’s look at a couple of simple points of law.
Irrespective of what chemicals are being used:
When spraying in the vicinity of a residential area, written notices need to be distributed to all residents within a 5km radius no less than 72 hours prior to spraying. These notices are to include a list of the chemical agents being used together with copies of their warning labels as well as information regarding action in the case of accidental exposure.
Precautions must be taken to ensure that there is no spray drift into the residential area. If wind conditions are such that spray drift (into a residential area) may occur, then spraying is prohibited.

For example, most of the vineyards in our village get sprayed using a centrifugal crop spraying trailer pumping out 8000 litres of pesticide at a nozzle speed of 600 km/h. Quite simply, this method of application ensures that spray drift into the surrounding residential properties will occur – and is therefore breaking the law.

Concerned resident 


  1. Tatib has been contacted by Malcolm Gordon, who has requested that we set the record straight. He no longer works for Bayer and has since retired. He is concerned that his letter to The Paarl Post may look biased when one considers that he used to work for Bayer.

  2. Well of course the man will have a one sided opinion. He worked for Bayer for many years and was instrumental in the development and use of their poisonous products in South Africa!! Well done for exposing this man!!

  3. Has anything come of this? I run every morning in the Paarl arboretum and was shocked when I spotted a helicopter at 6AM flying over the vineyards in the residential area, spraying pesticides. I am a severe sufferer of hay fever caused by the pesticides sprayed in Paarl and is especially concerned now that I'm pregnant. I am 32 and have never suffered from hay fever until I moved to Paarl in 2015. Is there any measure of accountability regarding this?

  4. Hi Christine ,

    It is shocking to hear that they have been spraying, using a helicopter, in the area.

    Aerial spraying so close to a residential area is unlawful as a large amount of spray drift results, and this could in turn get blown out of the vineyards and into the residential area.

    Sadly Drakenstein Municipality don't seem to want to enforce the law, but then they have also been breaking it when it comes to the spraying of the oak trees in the streets.

    We would suggest you report the matter to the Dept of Agri in Bellville (Leon du Toit is one of their legislative inspectors )

    Try to get video evidence of the spraying in you can and then also what farm was doing the spraying. That way we can try to put some pressure on the farm, to comply with the law .