Image for Gunns’ spray and the clean, green facade

On November 30, 2009 Gunns P/L notified in writing neighbours to their Timothy TR-196a plantations (Diddleum Plains) that ‘due to high populations of insects in some of our plantations, we will be carrying out control operations on properties in your area in the coming weeks. These operations are essential to maintain the health of our plantation resource’.

We understand the unwanted ‘insects’ in the Timothy plantations include the Eucalyptus leaf beetle (chrysomelid beetles).

The letter went on to state: ‘The chemical we intend to use will be Dominex Duo and Bond, apllied by air (helicopter).’

Gunns P/L Timothy TR-196a plantations directly adjoins a narrow public reserve along the St Patricks River - one of the sources of Launceston’s domestic water supply.

[Reference: Gunns P/L Plantation Division - Letter 30 November from Operation Manager, North east Plantations, Mr Jim Wilson]

Friday 18 December 2009

Tasmania’s clean-green façade continues; public health and biodiversity once again in the gun

Long-time community campaigner and medical practitioner, Dr Alison Bleaney from the Break O Day Catchment Risk Group has slammed the use of the insecticide Dominix Duo - alpha-cypermethrin - in Tasmania.

Dr Bleaney highlighted the international science on this ‘very toxic synthetic pyrethroid, a recognised an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) as well as being neurotoxic and an immune system modifier.

‘Tasmanian chemical regulators and our elected parliamentarian need to wake up pretty quickly and start reading about the dramatic changes in chemical registration, regulation and policy now underway in North America and Europe, Dr Bleaney said.

In June 2009 the United States Endocrine Society issued a statement, supported by the American Medical Association, that no exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is considered safe with parts per trillion exposure levels being linked to adverse effects to animals, humans and potentially ecosystems.

With the recent announcement that this pesticide would be used in aerial spraying operations in the northeast, Dr Bleaney came out to support the human community and the biodiverse water catchments that would be at risk.

“In Tasmania it is very common for aerial spraying to be the method of choice of pesticide application. It produces maximal spray-drift pollution away from the area of supposed application as pesticide spray drift can easily travel many kilometres. This practice has ceased in many countries - such as the EU – for this very reason,’ Dr Bleaney said.

“Why then does our Tasmania Government condone and continue to allow aerially spraying of very toxic pesticides including this endocrine disruptor along with a mixture of hydrocarbons, latex and alcohol ethoxylate (known to be toxic to respiratory systems) onto plantations in water catchments where people live, from helicopters at 45 meters above ground level?”

This practice is hazardous with the grave potential for spray drift and movement of pesticides into water bodies, into soil; onto bystanders and animals - both farmed animals & wildlife - and onto commercial crops.

“Tasmania’s Minister for Health, Lara Giddings* has just announced that three quarters of the Tasmania population has a chronic disease which renders many of them unable to hold down a daily job and sees many of them struggle with simple daily tasks.”

“There is a tremendous epidemic of chronic disease in our community. Why is our Government continuing to allow private companies and operators permission to continue with this extremely un-safe practice which can only add to the disease and suffering in Tasmania?”, Dr Bleaney said.

“The Tasmanian Government needs to act on this NOW. They cannot hide behind the Commonwealth coat-tails; they are responsible for what happens here in Tasmania on the ground and in the air. This is unacceptable.”

[* Footnote: Lara Giddings said three out of every four Tasmanians suffer from a chronic health condition like cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes (Damien Brown Mercury 7/12/2009 page 14).]