Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On Friday 18 November 2011, we received an email from a resident of Welgevonden Estate  [a residential estate on the outskirts of Stellenbosch]  as follows  :-

"Hi, we live in Welgevonden Estate and for the last 2 nights have heard a farmer over the road spraying his vineyards at night. It has been quite windy and this morning we woke to find dead beetles on our front porch. Then checked the cars, full of some sticky substance. It can only be spray drift. Please can you urgently help us to fight this farmer (Blue Jay Farm). The drift falls onto the houses and not to mention the pizza restaurant 50m over the road from the farm. Let us know what we can do to take action against his indiscriminate pollution and poisoning.
Please can you post a link onto Facebook? I really belive we need wide support for this problem and having a facebook link will help create more awareness. Please let me know how I can help as I really want to help to bring the ban to Stellenbosch. We live in Welgevonden Estate and are surrounded by pesticide spraying farmers."


There are 38 comments to be found in the "additional comments" section at the end of question 3

Having been caught in spray drift, from the very same farm, as we drove past Welgevonden Estate on the R44, we knew from past experience that spray drift in this area was indeed a well documented problem.  We therefore contacted the latest complainant in order to get more information and in this regard received a copy of correspondence between the Welgevonden resident  and Sandra Jeffery of Timberlea Farming Trust.

Click here to read the email :    http://www.scribd.com/doc/74213464/Timberlea-21-Sept-2011

Sandra Jeffery had also attached a number of very impressive documents and certifications, indicating that Timberlea did indeed comply with various standards. A close inspection of the documents has revealed that they are more concerned with the "Maximum Residue Levels " [MRL's]  ie the levels of pesticide still found on the fruit itself, than the actual spraying methods used to control pests and diseases within the vineyards and orchards.

Whilst the MRL's may comply with the acceptable levels as per the various certifications, this does not mean that the products sprayed are safe, by exposure, when sprayed. Almost all fungicides and pesticides have a statutory "withholding period" which in some cases can be 120 days. This means that the crop must not be sprayed less than 120 days before being harvested as then the MRL's will be too high and thus harmful to humans. So what about the high levels during spraying, that get blown into peoples gardens and houses ? Ones gardens, lawns and other household surfaces can remain contaminated, and toxic, for some time, where children playing on the lawn for example, could come into contact with the toxic fall-out.

Most of the pesticides & fungicides used today are toxic. Many of them are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and developmental /reproductive toxins. Children are particularly at risk by exposure.

Your average 'gifsmous' will say that the pesticides and fungicides are as poisonous as the salt in the Marmite in your toast, and the farmer's tend to believe this. They believe that if they dont spray their crops, before they get sick, then they will suffer huge damages.

We at TATIB believe in the "Precautionary Principle " and that is to rather assume that a fungicide /pesticide is unsafe until such time as it has been proven to be safe, and not the other way around.  Professor London and other international experts all agree that more than often its the "cocktail" of  fungicides/pesticides that are more toxic than single product spraying. They are also of the opinion that the inactive or "inert" ingredients are often more toxic than the active ingredients.

Products that were sprayed years ago, and were considered to be so safe for use, have now been banned or withdrawn after further tests and studies have shown that they are highly toxic and cause cancer for example. Chlorpyrifos, a household name for use in gardens, that had previously been considered so safe, was banned in SA last year, as tests proved that it was not only highly toxic but also extremely dangerous to children.  Whilst it has been banned for residential use, its still used on  the vineyards and orchards of the Western Cape.

On behalf of the residents that had contacted us, we sent a letter to Timberlea Farming Trust on 21 November 2011, a copy of which can be found here :

The above letter was also copied to : Angela Andrews, Legal Resources Centre Cape Town, Leon Du Toit & Anton Nothnagel  Legislative Inspectors, Department of Agriculture Cape Town, Marius Engelbrecht , Air Quality Officer , Cape Winelands District Municipality Stellenbosch.

Leon Du Toit :              leondt@daff.gov.za   &   leondt@nda.agric.za
Anton Nothnagel:        AntonN@nda.agric.za
Marius Engelbrecht:   mariuse@capewinelands.gov.za

The TATIB Foundation did not receive the courtesy of a response, to our email of 21 November 2011, from Timberlea Farm.  Instead we received an email from their attorneys on 28 November 2011, a copy of which can be found here :

Why have Timberlea chosen to not supply us with details as to what they have been spraying?  Looking at the number of reports made on the Welgevonden Estate FaceBook page, there was indeed spraying on the night of 18 November 2011.  Why was spraying done under cover of darkness ? Does Timberlea have something to hide ?  Why have Timberlea chosen to rather hand this matter over to their attorneys ?  What would Woolworths, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose think about all of this?

From our experience with the Riebeek-Kasteel farmer, once one is found to be in contravention of the various laws, with regards to one's spraying, one then may lose one's GlobalGap / EurepGap & Natures Choice Accreditation . 

The well documented problem of spray drift in Stellenbosch has received a lot of media attention of late.  In this regard The TATIB Foundation have held, and attended, a number of meetings in the area, with both Stellenbosch Municipality and Cape Winelands District Municipality.  

In November 2009, The Legal Resources Centre, Cape Town, sent a letter to both Municipalities as follows :


In January 2010 we hosted 2 large meetings at The Sustainability Institute , which were attended by a large number of irate residents and also Municipal and Provincial Officials.  Following these meetings, Stellenbosch Municipality held two internal meetings, the minutes of which are available here :


Despite the undertakings made by both Stellenbosch Municipality & Cape Winelands District Municipality , nothing seems to have been done to protect the residents from unlawful spray drift.

We have, after receiving notifications from farmers, compiled a list of what is sprayed on the average vineyard in the Western Cape :  

Experts at the LRC have prepared the following report on the above list :






Monday, November 21, 2011


Very informative site on "spray drift "