Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I was fairly happy. For some strange reason, since I live on farmland, down at the river, I don't get much affected by pesticides, or at least not as much as before. I even thought things were somehow improving. 

But unfortunately they were not - as usual, all fits of optimism in Barrydale don't last long - hope you noticed.

At the beginning of this month, heavy spraying took place a bit further down from the Pad Camp. Whatever they might have used affected me like never before. During those days I suffered of:

1) Strong heart palpitations.

2) Tingling tongue and thirst.

3) Nausea and stomach acidity.

4) Pain to liver and articulations (fingers, elbows, knees and hips).

These symptoms stopped a few hours after the end of the spraying operations, except for the pains to the liver and joints that are still bothering me, though at a lesser degree - the way it has been explained to me, the problems to the liver and the articulations are due to the fact that the body doesn't recognize these chemicals and doesn't know how to get rid of them. As the liver cannot process them, the excess get stored around the sinews and in cartilaginous tissues - don't know more, I come from Barcelona.

Since there were no doubts whatsoever that the spraying was the cause of these  problems, I contacted the Ministry of Agriculture for help and support - other big fit of optimism. They sent me a list - scarily long - of all banned chemicals and wanted to know from me (?) what they were spraying.

So I went to the police and ask them to check. Guess what? The police didn't want to know about it - no big guessing here, I suppose - but kindly suggested me to contact - guess who - the Ministry of Agriculture - usual ping pong. 

Back to the Ministry of Agriculture I was told that they would happily come and check, but as they were momentarily short of staff, they will eventually send somebody in a near future. Since this expression in the public sector means anything between 4 weeks and 5 months, I wonder why they should bother, by the time they are here, there' ll be no trace left of these chemicals. 

So practically, farmers will always get away with anything, no matter what they spray.

And this in spite of the law. Funny enough, there are a few laws and regulations on the matter - still nothing compare to the 300 and more pages on the use of tobacco in public places - but fortunately there are. Act 36 of 1947, for instance, OBLIGES FARMERS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEIR SPRAY DOES NOT AFFECT PEOPLE OR PROPERTIES .

Our "friends" instead - I don't know who exactly they are, but does that matter? - not only spray a few meters from the Pad Camp and the houses of Smitsville, but they don't even bother if a strong wind is blowing towards the village. Basically, they don't give a hoot.

For a few crates more of plums, in spite of many safer and Eco-friendly alternatives, these people affect other people's health, pollute the environment, contaminate rivers and table water. 

This is insane.


Anonymous said...
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jurgen said...

Hello Barry Duck

I sympathise with you regarding this pesticide matter.

My husband and I live in the Boland and we too are being sprayed, in an unlawful manner, with pesticides, so much so that we have ( including our children) ended up in hospital and have been diagnosed as having been exposed to pesticides and organophosphates.

As I type this to you, my joints and fingers are aching ( I have recently spent 2 weeks in hospital) and the diagnosis is pesticide induced multiple chemical sensitivity.My kidneys, liver and spleen were also affected by the pesticides.

The farmer has said that "nothing he sprays is harmful to man or to the environment" and he probably really either believes this, or is is just a very good liar. We forced him, by means of a High Court Order, to notify us in writing, what he sprays us with and to our horror we discovered that many of the pesticides are 1b highly hazardous chemicals, that many of them have been banned in 52 countries (except South Africa which seems to be decades behind) and that many of them have been found to not only cause damage to ones central nervous system, ones endocrine system, but are also carcinogenic and give one cancer.

The problem is not just endemic to Barrydale, but also to most rural towns in the Western Cape and other parts of South Africa. Similar complaints have come in from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Villiersdorp,Franschoek, Grabouw, Riebeek-Kasteel,Groblersdal ... the list is long.

The hardest part about raising public awareness, is that the farmers will say that they were here first and that if you dont want to be sprayed with toxic pesticides then go back to the city. What they dont seem to understand is that if they allow their pesticides to get blown out of their vineyards/orchards then they are actually breaking the law and are guilty of a criminal offence. They may also then say that because they have Eurepgap Certification (if they export ) they have to adhere to strict standards. But do they really? and who keeps a tab on the way that they spray?

It may take years for some people to get cancer as a result of the pesticides. For others they may have almost instantaneous side effects - it varies from person to person.

Nausea,headaches, tingling tongue and metallic taste on lips, ahcing joints, chronic fatique, vertigo, painful joints, heart palpitations are all well documented symptoms of exposure to pesticides and in particular organophosphates. The more serious long term illnesses like cancer, hodgsons lymphoma, parkinsons ..... take a little longer to manifest themselves.

Should we all be concerned ?? YES.

Are our rights, to be able to live in an environment that is not harmful to our health being infringed upon ? YES

The next question is , what are we going to do about it, to protect our health, our rights and the health of our children ?

Those who dont think and or believe that the pesticides will make you ill, should put their money where their mouth is, and allow themselves to be exposed to the spray drift. When they too get ill, they will then believe how serious a situation this is.