Concern over locust spray plans

Friends of the Earth (FoE) today raised health concerns regarding the arsenal of insecticides being used to control locust populations in the state’s north and north west.

MEDIA RELEASE Wednesday 22 September, 2010


Friends of the Earth (FoE) today raised health concerns regarding the arsenal of insecticides being used to control locust populations in the state’s north and north west.

Friends of the Earth land use researcher Anthony Amis said the organisation has particular concerns with widespread use of Organophosphorus (OP) insecticides such as Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Fenitrothion and Maldison/Malathion.

It appears that the Organophosphorus sprays will be used to target locust nymphs near or in pasture, lucerne, some cereals and sorghum crops.

“In the past 18 months studies have found OP pesticides linked to ADHD in children, rhinitis, higher cancer rates and leaukemia in children, endocrine disruption, multiple chemical sensitivity and Parkinsons Disease,” said Mr Amis.

“Organophosphorus insecticides work by attacking the insect’s nervous system. These substances can also be neurotoxic for humans and can impact on of the functioning of certain enzymes in the brain" said Mr Amis.

"This current locust spraying regime could well be Victoria's largest ever spraying campaign. It is essential that use of dangerous insecticides is kept to an absolute minimum particularly near water supplies and communities.”

FoE is concerned that wide spread aerial spraying could result in spray drift, particularly if sprayers are forced to spray in windy conditions to meet tight deadlines.

“Spray drift can impact on neighbouring properties, falling on roofs and entering drinking water tanks. It can waft over bystanders, drift onto other farms (including organic farms) and have impacts broader than those intended,” said Mr Amis.

“It can also end up in domestic water supplies, via channels, streams and reservoirs. Water authorities likely to be impacted include Goulburn Valley Water, Coliban Water, GWM Water and Lower Murray Water,” he said.

“How are the Government and water authorities ensuring that vulnerable communities won't be impacted by insecticides?” asked Mr Amis.

“What rights have communities got if they are exposed to spray drift? What safeguards is the Government putting in place to protect vulnerable residents and communities against the impacts of spray drift and water contamination?” Mr Amis concluded.

For phone interview contact:
Anthony Amis, FoE land use researcher
9830 6164 (h) 9419 8700 (w) 0425 841 564 (m)