Poison on a plate: Outdated agrichemical legislation means your avocado-topped pizza could be hazardous to your health


All South African consumers of commercially farmed products eat food produced with the use of ‘crop protection solutions’ and ‘chemical remedies’ exported to Africa from the EU – where they have often been banned. The problem is that South Africa lacks an effective legislative framework to regulate agrochemicals and appointed ‘the fox to guard the henhouse’.

In late 2020 a webinar titled Unpoison Our Legislation brought to light harrowing but little-known facts about the state of chemical use in South Africa and the lack of protection for the public.

In her presentation on the legal framework, Advocate Susannah Cowen, a member of Thulamela Chambers, told the webinar: “There is a clear absence of an effective legislative framework to regulate agrochemicals in South Africa, and this results in consistent and systematic breaches of human rights.”

These include the constitutional rights to life, dignity, an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, fair labour practices, security and control over one’s body, access to information and just administrative action.

Cowen was reporting back on a legal submission, made on behalf of The Real Thing to President Cyril Ramaphosa and eight government ministers shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. The submission called for a complete overhaul of the legislation but unfortunately has not been heeded.

The current law, Act 36 of 1947, is three-quarters of a century old and has not been updated, in stark contrast to the ever and rapidly advancing biotech industry and the plethora of associated chemical products in use in South Africa.

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Maverick Citizen, 26 January 2021
; https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-01-26-poison-on-a-plate-outdated-agrichemical-legislation-means-your-avocado-topped-pizza-could-be-hazardous-to-your-health/