Friday, October 8, 2010


 After receiving numerous complaints, of ill health, following the unlawful spraying of Oak Trees in Paarl, the
 following article appeared in The Paarl Post

In reaction to this recent article, one of the residents has sent in a letter to the Editor of Paarl Post as follows :-
7 October 2010

Dear Madam

I refer to your article “To spray or not?” in the Paarl Post of 7 October 2010.

Your article is mischievous for failing to mention legal requirements for all spraying activity in the vicinity of residential dwellings.

A minimum of 48 hours prior to spraying, residents are to be given written notice. Such written notice must include:
·    Exact date and time of spray activity.
·    Names of products used.
·    Copies of product warning labels.
·    Instructions of what to do in the event of exposure / contamination.

Method of spraying:
·    The application method must ensure that no spray be allowed to drift into residential properties.

The current spray program of the Drakenstein Municipality fails to meet either of these legal requirements. We simply demand that the Drakenstein Municipality obey the law, nothing more.

Furthermore, the issue of product licensing:
Dr Verdoorn fails to address the fact that the products currently in use are not licensed for a residential environment.
I consider myself to be a very safe driver. I have had no accidents or traffic fines in more than 15 years. However, if I had to drive a truck I would be breaking the law as I am not licensed to do so

TATIB would like to comment as follows :-

  1. If Drakenstein Municipality did not feel that exposure to the fungicides was potentially harmful to human health then why would they instruct the residents to stay inside and close all doors & windows during the spraying process ?
  2. There are clear warnings on the statutory Product Labels as to the side effects , to humans, following exposure to these products.  One does not have to be a medical practitioner to realise, after reading the Product Labels, that these products are harmful to humans.     If there is a warning that exposure to the product and spray drift will cause permanent damage to ones eyes, I would rather tend to believe what is written on the label than listen to a consultant paid by the agro chemical industry.
  3. The Product Labels also list the active ingredients. If you run these listed ingredients through The Pesticide Action Network of North America's data base, you will find details and case studies of their molecular structure, side effects, laboratory reports etc. Who do we believe ? Verdoorn or PANNA , INTOX, ILO, WHO, INCHEM , Professor London, Dr Minnaar, Professor Rother.....???
  4. The Pesticide Action Network of North America, has done scientific studies and has access to published scientific reports on the active ingredients of these products. I tend to rather believe their data than the statements made by Verdoorn, whose is after all a representative of the agricultural chemical industry in South Africa and receives payment from them - ie he represents their interests.
  5. The TATIB Foundation has several "medical clusters"  in various regions of South Africa, and our members consist of medical doctors, scientists & professors. Verdoorn seems to believe that he is the only expert in South Africa when it comes to 'agrcultural chemicals'.  
  6. It is interesting to note, that whenever there is an article or report following complaints of spray drift, Verdoorn is there to defend the pesticide industry. Google "Gerhard Verdoorn"  to read even more about what he has been up to - like for example his being Vice Chairman of  "JAG SA"   ( Hunting South Africa).  He also wanted to allow a vast tract of the Karoo to be aerial sprayed with RoundUP a toxic herbicide.
  7. Verdoorn, in his articles in Die Burger & Landbouchemie of 26 March 2010 actually confirms that there is a problem with enforcement of Act 36 of 1947 and that furthermore there is a shortage of experts in South Africa  inosofar the testing of agricultural chemicals is concerned. He goes on to state that "Geen voedselprodukte of plaagdoders word meer ontleed nie" . In other words there really is not much scientific research in South Africa when it comes to pesticides and their symptoms of exposure.  All that we have to rely on, is the information contained in the Product Labels & Material Safety Data Sheets that are supplied with the product itself.   We thus have to to rely on the information to be found on many international sites such as WHO, INTOX, PANNA, INCHEM as there is very little information to be found locally. 
  8. In light of point 7 above , there are no toxicological studies that have been done in South Africa on these products. The experts rely on information from international laboratories. 
  9. Whether or not the fungicides that Drakenstein Municipality are spraying are harmful or not is irrelevant in this issue.  The law (Act 36 of 1947) prohibits any spray drift into a residential area. It would be impossible for Drakenstein Municiplity to prevent spray drift.  The products that they have admitted to spraying are registered under Act 36 of 1947.  They are thus only licensed to spray these products in a legal manner as prescribed by the act.  Clearly they cannot do this and they know there will be spray drift - hence the warnings within their letter. 
  10. The Oak Trees have been around for hundreds of years - during which time they have not been sprayed by Municipalities and yet they have survived and not died. Why is there now a belief that they will die if not sprayed for Powdery Mildew ?  The reason they are sprayed, as admitted  by Drakenstein, is that the farmers who have vineyards have blamed the Powdery Mildew on the Oak trees in the town and have threatened to take action against the Municipality.   The fact is that  the current methods of viticulture, as a monocrop, and given the location of the vineyards & the climate of the region,  have resulted in vines that are very suceptible to all sorts of diseases, vines whose immune systems have been severely compromised. 
  11. Stellenbosch Municipality originally used to spray the same products, and have admitted that after further research, they were told that it would be best to build up the immune system of the Oak tree, by applying a foliar feed, rather than by spraying with Tilt, Bumper & Rubigan - that the latter 3 fungicides actually attack and weaken the trees' immune system making it more prone to fungal attack - which of course is good for the manufacturer of the product as more product then gets sold. 
  12. Stellenbosch Municipality insists that it now ONLY uses a foliar feed - why cant Drakenstein follow suit ?
  13. Regarding the comments made by Derek Clift, fungicides are not, as he states, used to combat fruit fly. Fungicides cannot kill insects. For this an insecticide is used. The story about spraying with water, is an excuse that even the farmer in Riebeek-Kastee tried to use - he told the residents that he sprayed water and that we made up the fact that we became ill. He then went one step further and allegedly told people that a 5 week old child never ended up in ICU, that the baby featured on Carte Blanche was in fact not a real baby, but a plastic doll.  We have medical records and reports to prove that the child spent 45 mins in CPR and more than a week in ICU, following exposure to the "harmless"  products that the friendly farmer had sprayed . We also have written notifications, on the farmers own letterhead, listing what products he had sprayed and in this regard they were class 1b Highly Hazardous Pesticides - like Dichlorvos, Thioflo, Dicarzol etc.
  14. If Verdoorn, Clift, the Municipality & the Paarl Post reporters do not believe that Tilt, Bumper & Rubigan will make them ill, well then let them put their beliefs to the test and allow themselves to be sprayed with the product, or better still stand underneath an Oak tree during the spraying. I guarantee that at the very least they will suffer from burnt, irritated skin , eyes and upper respiratory tracts, and perhaps even corneal damage.


  1. Well done TATIB !!

    Interesting link below , some form of Open Letter in which Verdoorn seems to not be very popular.

    Working group as well as the support of Aldo Berruti of AGRED, they seem
    > to
    > have hit a stone wall when it comes to the "Verdoonater" the hunter. One
    > wonders if this is his own reasoning or that of his members.
    > His attempts at heading up a central body for hunting in SA, his great
    > people "skills", and rumours of his frolicking with female staff are not
    > helping his cause. Is his stance against falconry a personal agenda, or is
    > he working in the best interests of BLSA? If I were a BLSA member I would
    > sit up and take note!

  2. Is it possible to test whether any of these pestecides/herbacides are present in the body - where does one go?

  3. Dear Anonymous

    From our experience and research, very little testing is done in South Africa insofar the harmful side effects of exposure to pesticides are concerned.

    There is a blood test that measures ones cholinesterase levels. This is hormone whose balance gets affected following exposure to organophosphates (which are endocrine disruptors). The test has to be done within a few days of exposure and will indicate a low level of cholinesterase if one has been exposed. A base level will also have to be established and so a further few tests may be needed.

    Unfortunately there are not many pathology labs that can do other tests, and it could become an expensive process. One of our members was exposed to Lindane, which is a highly toxic organochlorine - its used in anti-lice shampoos and was used in Agriculture (its now been banned) and also in theb treatment of timber for domestic household use. He struggled to find a pathology lab in Cape Town able to do this and was referred to the State Pathology Labs in Pretoria .... and so its not an easy process. And then of course, if the tests do show that one has been exposed, what does none do next ? How does one get rid of the toxin ?

    One of our medical cluster doctors has a patient from Citrusdal. He is a farmer who farms oranges. He is also very over weight and when he goes on diet, becomes very ill and is often hospitalised in Paarl Medi Clinic, due to the fact that his diet causes his fatty tissue to become dislodged and with it the organophosphates that have been stored in it - making him ill when these toxins enter his blood stream.

    I suggest you perhaps contact Professor Leslie London : Occupational Health & Family Medicine UCT or Dr Helen Muir in Durbanville. ( I am assuming you are in the Western Cape?)