SA wine industry responds to allegations regarding the effect of pesticides on workers

Thursday, 29 August, 2019
Following the recently published article by Oxfam Germany, titled ‘Gift auf Wein – das lass sein!’, the South African wine industry would like to respond as follows: The report mentions a total of 67 ‘illegal’ products, of which only 18 may be used, when necessary, on wine grapes in South Africa. The remaining 49 mentioned products are registered for use on other crops – not wine grapes.

Every single one of the 18 products are registered by the Department of Agriculture and the Integrated Production of Wine Scheme (IPW) prohibits the use of any unregistered products, in accordance with South African legislation. All of the grapes used in the production of IPW certified wines must be 100% IPW certified and current figures show that 94% of all South African vineyards are IPW certified.

The IPW is a statutory scheme (not a private standard) administered by the Wine and Spirit Board (WSB). All schemes administered by the board falls under the Liquor Products Act 60 of 1989 as administered by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Reform.

The IPW Scheme’s principles are based on legal environmental legislation, good agricultural practices related to grape production (farm component), good manufacturing practices related to wine production (winery component) and packaging activities (bottling activities).

Certification of compliance falls under the jurisdiction of the WSB, with a dedicated IPW office responsible for administering the scheme. IPW certification provides buyers and consumers with a guarantee that grape production was undertaken with due consideration of the environment and safety of the resulting product, to ensure the wine was produced in an environmentally responsible manner and it is safe for the consumer.

The IPW Scheme is based on the following acts as per South African law:

• Agricultural Pests Act, No. 36 of 1947

• Fertilizer, Farm feeds, Agricultural remedies and Stock remedies Act, No. 36 of 1947

• Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, No. 43 of 1983

• National Environmental Management: Waste Act, Nr 59 van 2008

• National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, Nr 39 of 2004

• National Environmental Management Act, Nr 107 of 1998

• National Water Act, No. 36 of 1998

• Occupational Health and Safety Act, No. 85 of 1993

• Health Act, No. 63 of 1977

Measures the IPW Scheme have in place to protect the integrity of the Scheme:

South Africa is a member of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) and the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) and is therefore aware of all changes in the EU and in the 9 membercountries of the WWTG. Through aforementioned we are informed of changes and regulations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries.

Registered products:

According to the IPW Scheme producers may only use plant protection products that are registered in South Africa according to Act 36 (1947). The MRL on SA labels complies with WHO standards and any unregistered or illegal products are not allowed to be applied under the IPW Scheme as well as under South African legislation.

IPW members must adhere to the legally required official withholding period for all plant protection products used on grapes – meaning the minimum permissible time allowed between the last application of a pesticide and harvesting of an edible commodity for human consumption or grazing by livestock to prevent any product exceeding the prescribed Maximum Residue Limit (MRL).

Important to note: Agricultural production varies by region and what works in some countries may not be appropriate in other climates and regions, hence the official maximum residual limit (MRL) list of the respective countries may differ as a result.

Independent audits are undertaken annually at 160 wineries and 225 farms on randomized basis by the Scheme’s appointed independent auditors.

Independent audited results for 2019: (Farms) Integrated pest management practices:

Depending on the practices followed to manage pests, scores are awarded to the farms by independent auditors. The most recent audit results indicated that 90.5% of the farms either did spot spraying where pests occurred or did not spray for pests at all. Less than 7.7% either sprayed the whole vineyard when pests were causing a problem or used an integrated preventative spraying program.

IPW Grape Samples: Each year during the harvest more than 120 grape samples are taken across the entire wine industry on a completely random basis. This is done by independent inspectors who take a random sample from a load of grapes at any cellar on unannounced visits and then transport the samples to a SANAS* accredited laboratory and tested for more than 146 different pesticide residues by means of multi-residue analysis.

During the reporting period the annual analyses of the random grape samples taken at the wineries during the season did not reveal the presence of any non-permissible / registered residues or residues exceeding the permitted threshold levels.

IPW also complies with international wine industry environmental sustainability criteria, including the “Global Wine Sector Environmental Sustainability Principles” as published by the International Federation of Wine and Spirits (FIVS) and the “OIV Guidelines for sustainable vitiviniculture: Production, processing and packaging of products” as published by the OIV.

Wine may only be exported from South Africa once an export certificate is issued by the Department of Agriculture. The export certificate guarantees buyers and consumers that the wine adheres to the legal specifications set by South Africa and the respective exporting country.

*SANAS: The South African National Accreditation System is recognised by the South African Government as the single National Accreditation Body that gives formal recognition that Laboratories, Certification Bodies, Inspection Bodies, Proficiency Testing Scheme Providers and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) test facilities are competent to carry out specific tasks in terms of the Accreditation for Conformity Assessment, Calibration and Good Laboratory Practice Act (Act 19 of 2006).