UPDATED Monday 23 August 2010: Banned US neurotoxic insecticides Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos and others are about to be unleashed over South Australia to protect crops from locust with a possible assistance scheme for farmers who choose to use these chemicals.
Concerns are that farmers and pastoralists may not have evaluated the impact on public health, that using toxins previously banned in other countries, may have on their own health, that of their families and the wider communities including ecological impacts.
The South Australian LGA (Local Government Association) Minutes APPENDIX 1 – Item 5.4 – Annual General Meeting 4th June, 2010. Association Procedural and Policy Decisions, states:
“PIRSA Biosecurity has a Plague Locust Control Plan, which is part of the PIRSA emergency management document set.
Procurement of necessary aircraft and a range of chemicals (Fipronil, Fenitrothion and Metarhizium) are currently underway. Farmers have a range of registered chemicals for locust use including Carbaryl, Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Fenitrothion, Fipronil and Maldison.
• Direct assistance to farmers in relation to chemical costs is still to be worked through to ensure good governance of expenditure and correct use of chemicals. The Reference Groups will assist in developing the detail of any assistance scheme”.
The US Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) report in 2002 says that banned insecticides, diazinon is particularly hazardous to children. Where studies have been done, evidence from laboratory animals shows that early-life exposure to low doses of this class of chemicals reduces development of neural connections…… High exposures thus remain likely for those living in or near agricultural communities.
Air monitoring of these two pesticides demonstrates that people living near application sites are exposed to levels that exceed acute RELs (Reference Exposure Levels) for both adults and children. For diazinon, the peak measured concentration 72 feet from the field boundary was 16 times higher than the adult acute REL and 39 times higher than the acute child REL.
Hundreds of thousands….at risk from pesticide drift…Some pesticides in use today are especially dangerous to wildlife. Two insecticides, carbofuran and diazinon, were involved in 55% of all bird incidents.
The PANNA report of 2002 further says, “Analysis of pesticide air monitoring results and pesticide use data indicates that hundreds of thousands of Californians live where they are at risk of ill health from pesticide drift…..diazinon and chlorpyrifos are being phased out altogether because of the unacceptable risks posed to children from their use.
Due to their occupations, farmers and farmworkers are the most highly exposed groups, but urban and suburban residents are also vulnerable.
In urban areas….. Those who live in suburbs on the agricultural-urban interface or who live or work in agricultural communities face high exposures from agricultural pesticide applications.
Children who live or attend school near farmland are particularly vulnerable.
Organic farmers suffer economic loss when they cannot market their crops as “certified organic” due to pesticide drift from neighboring farms. Airborne pesticides also impact ecosystems, both adjacent to and quite distant from application sites”.
Repeated exposure to low doses may cause muscle twitching, anorexia, malaise, depression, irritability, confusion, anxiety, and dizziness. Damage to the pancreas has developed in some people and in laboratory animals exposed to large amounts of diazinon.
PANNA says: “..Chlorpyrifos and diazinon (containing the carbamate carbaryl) were recently banned by the U.S. EPA and are being phased out altogether because of the unacceptable risks posed to children from their use. The bad news is that the process is slow…and unfortunately the risks to agricultural workers are often simply overlooked. EPA [USA] has also not followed the letter of the law in its work, failing to fully assess the risks from all routes of exposure and failing to include additional safety factors for children that are required under the 1996 law.
Diazinon is a mutagen. Long-term exposure may damage the developing fetus or cause birth defects, nerve damage and/or liver damage. It has been shown to cause birth defects in chick embryos (parrot beak, abnormal feathering, and development of disproportionately small limbs). A two generation reproductive study in rats showed that diazinon exposure affected both mothers and offspring. Diazinon caused increased numbers of still births and neonatal deaths in beagle dogs and birth defects in pigs.
In 1999, the Health Effects Division, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, EPA, reported that “diazinon is one of the leading causes of acute reactions to insecticide use reported as poisoning incidents in the U.S.”
The MLA (Meat and Lamb Association) has released it’s concerns as to the impact of toxic chemicals on the agricultural industry in Australia, saying:
“As farmers across Australia select their weapons of choice against the plague locust, Meat and Livestock Australia is urging them to consider the potential impacts on our export markets, as many of the chemical control options on offer against locusts will require grain and livestock producers to adhere to strict withholding periods (WHPs) and export intervals (EIs).
During 2008–2009 Australia exported 67 per cent of its total beef production, with an export value of $5 billon and 62% of its sheepmeat production, with an export value of $1.46 billion.
With this in mind, it is important to remain focussed on the bigger picture as locusts start to emerge according to MLA’s Manager Production Integrity and Assurance, Patrick Hutchinson.
“It is critical to carry out best-practice management to protect our agricultural industries as a whole,” he said. According to Mr Hutchinson this extends past chemical choice and encompasses sound record keeping.
“In particular grain and livestock producers need to ensure they are vigilant in filling out their vendor declaration forms when selling any feed grain or oilseeds, fodder or moving or selling livestock that may have been affected by locust control chemicals.”
Livestock can become exposed to chemicals by:
• Direct overspraying of livestock.
• Grazing pastures or crops that have been sprayed or onto which spray has drifted.
• Consuming fodder (hay, silage or grain) that has been sprayed directly or exposed to spray drift.
Regardless of the choice of chemical Mr Hutchinson urges farmers to always check and observe the relevant withholding periods (WHPs) and export intervals (EIs), to keep records of any spraying activities and fill in appropriate vendor declarations correctly when selling stock or supplying feed to other producers.
For further information on the management of crops, pastures and livestock affected by locust control programs visit www.safemeat.com.au. For more information on vendor declarations or to download livestock feed and fodder declarations go to www.mla.com.au/feeddecs
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My own research reveals these products are banned elsewhere. “Fipronil was used to control African locusts in Madagascar between 1996 and 1999, the mortality of many bird and mammal species increased, leading the government to withdraw authorisation of its use against locust swarms in February 1999…
Categories: GENERAL News