Several pesticides that have been found to cause cancer, cause genetic mutations and adversely affect reproductive health will be phased out and banned by 2024, according to the national agriculture ministry.
- The Department of Agriculture will phase out some pesticides over the next two years and ban them completely by June 2024.
- Female farmers marched in Worcester on Tuesday, handing memos to the Departments of Health and Agriculture. They want this to be recognized as a serious public health issue.
- Many women farmers spoke of not being provided with protective clothing when working with pesticides, having to work in crops immediately after spraying pesticides, and developing respiratory symptoms such as asthma.
The announcement was made Tuesday at Worcester City Hall in front of over 150 mostly women who live and work on farms and members of the Women on Farms project. The focus of the event was the demand from farm workers for responsible and ethical pesticide practices on farms.
The workers also presented a memorandum to a Department of Health official at Worcester Hospital. The memo called for an urgent meeting with department heads for health, agriculture, labor and the environment. They also want dangerous pesticides banned and old pesticide regulations updated.
Many of these pesticides have been banned because they pose a hazard to farm workers, consumers and the environment, GroundUp previously said reported. Pesticides are regulated by the Fertilizer, Feed, Seed and Medicines Act (FFFAR).
During Tuesday’s event, many workers shared their stories of how the use of certain pesticides has affected them. Representatives of the health and agriculture ministries also approached the women.
Chrisma Juluus, who lives on a farm in De Doorns, said the smell of pesticides on her husband’s work clothes lingered in her home even after she put them in a bag.
“It takes a long time for symptoms to show up… They have to get rid of the pesticides,” Juluus said, adding that their three-year-old had shown symptoms of respiratory problems.
De Doorns’ Bettie Louw said her husband had been spraying pesticides on a farm for over 40 years. She said he, too, used to “stank of pesticides” and often got sick. “I didn’t know what to do because he was very ill,” she said.
Others spoke out about not being provided with protective clothing when working with pesticides, having to work on crops immediately after spraying pesticides, and developing respiratory symptoms such as asthma.
Women on Farm Project’s Carmen Louw said Tuesday’s event marked the first time since 2019 that she had received feedback from the state when she first approached the state about the pesticides.
Maluta Jonathan Mudzunga, director of agricultural input control at the Ministry of Agriculture, acknowledged that the law regulating pesticides is very old. He said that “it doesn’t really address or provide adequate protection for the issues that were raised today.”
Mudzunga said the department has given note that certain pesticides will be phased out and completely banned by June 1, 2024. These include chemicals with active ingredients that cause cancer, impair reproductive health and cause genetic mutations. He said the department is in talks with the pesticide industry to stop manufacturing these chemicals.
Mudzunga accepted the group’s memo on behalf of Minister Thoko Didiza.
Aneliswa Cele, chief director of environmental health and port health services at the Department of Health, said officials in Worcester have been tasked with investigating cases of pesticide exposure on farms.
Cele encouraged the women who have been exposed to pesticides to report cases immediately to the nearest health facility so that investigations can be carried out on the farm.
She also pledged to reduce pesticides that contaminate water sources; that containers are properly stored; and labeling requirements are strictly followed. She took the memo on behalf of Health Secretary Joe Phaahla.
Originally) released on GroundUp / © 2022 GroundUp