Townies, not farmers, using banned pesticides

Many urban residents and gardeners, it seems, are still using the banned pesticides chlordane, dieldrin, DDT and chlorpyrifos, among others.

Indeed, it’s been reported that 99% of emergency calls to the Griffon Poison Information Centre (GPIC) involve these deadly pesticides. GPIC’s Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, speaking at the South African Pest Control Association’s PestBiz 2010 Convention in Bloemfontein, said that disreputable pest control companies are taking advantage of urban consumers’ ignorance of the ban on chlordane, dieldrin and chlorpyrifos.

Some are allegedly even going so far as to deceive unwitting consumers with slogans such as “Diazinon – perfectly safe for people” and “Pyrethroids are safe for the environment”. “The public don’t seem to keep themselves up to date on media reports regarding the banning of certain chemicals in certain sectors of the market. We still get calls from people asking us how to safely use DDT even though it was banned years ago,” Dr Verdoorn told Farmer’s Weekly.

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“People act hugely irresponsibly with these pesticides. We even had a call once from a woman who had used chlorpyrifos as a dip for her dog. This most certainly caused her dog’s death.”Dr Verdoorn said the agricultural sector was increasingly aware of the importance of only using registered pesticides and of the dangers of incorrect handling and application. This was a view echoed by Tom Mabesa, CEO of the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of SA (AVCASA).

The association trains farmers in the correct handling of pesticides. “We only promote the use of registered pesticides,” he said. “But much still needs to be done to educate urban residents about these products. AVCASA intends to work with the SA Nursery Association in this regard.”

Contact AVCASA on 011 805 2000, and the GPIC on 082 446 8946.