Female farmworker collective fights against EU-banned pesticides

BusinessLive reports that after six years of working on a vineyard just outside Cape Town, farmworker Diana Ndleleni collapsed between the grapevines. Her doctor said she had permanent lung damage that he believed was from years of inhaling pesticides sprayed on the grapes. He said she would not be able to work again. Nearly a year after spending a week in hospital, she joined hundreds of other women marching to demand these pesticides, banned in the EU, are not imported into SA where workers report a range of health issues from rashes, to asthma and even cancer. “These pesticides are a silent killer,” said Ndleleni, outside a community hall in Paarl, where hundreds of female farmworkers gathered last month to demand an end to toxic pesticide imports.

Ndleleni is part of a collective called the Women on Farms Project, a group fighting for the rights of female farmworkers in SA. The project is focusing on 67 pesticides banned by the EU and aims to get medical reports from independent doctors to try to prove a health link, building on existing academic research from the University of Cape Town. The UnPoison network, an SA research and advocacy group, has also compiled a list of 192 highly hazardous pesticides registered and used in SA. More than a third of them are banned in the EU. Colette Solomon, director of Women on Farms, said: “It is double standards because if these chemicals are so harmful to the EU, it cannot be right that is OK for our country. African lives are of equal value to European lives.” The SA department of agriculture, land reform & rural development said it planned to ban a range of highly hazardous pesticides by June 2024.

Ref: SA Labour News
by Kim Harrisberg

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