Edward Opira, a veterinary officer officer of Lakang sub-county in Amuru district, has disparaged allegations by National Drug Authority (NDA) that Tickoff, an acaricide produced by Pastor Robert Kayanja of Miracle Center Cathedral, contains chemicals which are ‘dangerous’ to both humans and animals.
NDA, through its spokesperson, Abiaz Rwamwiri, claimed that the chemicals found in the drug are Diazinon, Fipronil and Benalaxyl.
The Authority alleged that diazinon is a highly concentrated fumigant used to kill bedbugs, bats and termites, and that Fipronil was banned for food-producing animals because of the long withdrawal period due to the potential risks it could have on human health.
NDA also alleged that Benalaxyl, a fungicide, was found to have cancer-causing components.
Now, according to Opira, the claims should be trashed because they are doubtful, speculative and have no scientific justification.
Below is his commentary published in New Vision, on Monday February 20, 2023.
This is the first of the three banned chemicals that the NDA raised red flags about. According to their statements, ‘Diazinon is a highly concentrated fumigant used to kill bedbugs, bats, and termites’. Diazinon is a pesticide commonly used to control various soil, crops, and livestock pests. It is applied as a spray on plants and livestock, where it interfere ls with the pest’s nervous system and, as arm result, kills it.
In terms of any chemical, the contradiction of such components needs to be considered to understand its effect fully.
The commercially available forms are concentrated at 60%, 50% and 25%, and the intended outdoor concentration is recommended to be a 0.5% solution.
NDA states they found 0.59 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of Diazinon in Tick-Off, equivalent to 0.00000295% even before further dilution of 20 litres of water. Once it is diluted, the final concentration is 0.0000001475%, which is sprayed on the animal.
Secondly, Diazinon released into the environment is moderately persistent and moderately mobile. A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) investigating pesticide residues in food revealed that Diazinon was found to be mobile in 80% of the 25 soils tested.
Consequently, a joint toxicology evaluation was conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations and WHO in 2006 on Diazinon. Two groups of 15 male and female rats were given single doses of Diazinon to test its neurotoxic effects.
The findings concluded that up to 600mg dosage of Diazinon had no lethal neurotoxic effect. This study aids in providing that the quantity of Diazinon in Tick-Off is so insignificant that it cannot by any means kill ticks.
A report published in 2008 by the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that in plants and animals, “Diazinon is rapidly broken down by most animals that eat it and (are) not likely to build up to high or dangerous levels in animals or plants that you may eat” (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
The levels of Diazinon found in Tick-Off were at 0.0000001475%. This is a trace amount and is significantly too low to have any pharmacological activity on animals. So, the question is, why would someone intentionally labour to put less that 1mg to kill ticks?
The second accusation by NDA stated that “Fipronil is a spray banned from food producing animals because of long withdrawal period due to the potential risks it could have on human health.”
According to the NDA register, as of February 2022, Fipronil is an authorized active ingredient in PESTIGON (FIPRONIL 100MG), an approved drug for pesticide control Reg No; NDA/MAL/VDP/1594.
Fipronil was found by NDA at a concentration of 0.56mg/kg in Tick-Off. Once diluted in 20 litres of water, this gives 0.0000000014% as the final concentration amount applied to the cow. This is different from the active concentrations for most Fipronil formulations for tick control or spot-on treatments, as well as sprays and collars.
This is illustrated by a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics that inspected the effectiveness of Fipronil spot-on treatments for regulating ticks on dogs.
It was discovered that Fipronil’s spot-on treatment at a concentration of 9.7% was highly effective in killing and repelling ticks for up to four weeks after application.
Another study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, investigated the effectiveness of Fipronil spray’s chemical component in subsidizing ticks. The study in question found that thee spray, with a concentration of 0.25%, was highly influential in killing ticks for up to four weeks after application.
Fipronil is already a registered drug by NDA, and available in 100mg concentrations. Therefore, what basis does the NDA have to publicly state that Fipronil of these dosages of 0.0000000014% in question can kill ticks or affect the cattle we consume?
They stated: “Benalaxyl is a systematic fungicide which is carcinogenic (cancer-causing potentials).”
Benalaxyl is a fungicide and is primarily used for the control of plant diseases caused by oomycete fungi, such as downy mildew and late blight.
While Benalaxyl may have some activity against certain pests, including insects and nematodes, it is not typically used as a pesticide for these purposes. The NDA Public Relations Manager, Abiaz Rwamwiri, stated that ‘science is science.’
He emphasized how the product, Tick-Off, had carcinogenic properties that cause cancer called Benalaxyl.
However, we would like to compare its level of carcinogenicity to that of already approved tick products on the market. According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, some of the arcaricides have been classified as a possible human carcinogen, for example Chlorfenvinphos – Class Ib (Highly hazardous in), Amitraz – Class II (Moderately hazardous while Benalaxyl was placed in Class III (slightly hazardous).
Please note that Amitraz and Chlorfenvinphos are approved for use and yet they are listed to be more carcinogenic than the Benalaxyl, which was found in Tick-Off. According to the NDA register, as of February 2022, Amitraz is an authorized active ingredient in MILBITRAZ (12.5% concentration), an approved acaricide Reg No; NDA/MAL/VDP/5696. This drug has been registered registered since 1998 by the NDA.
According to NDA register, as of April 2022, Chlorfenvinphos is an authorized active ingredient in DUODIP (50.5% concentration), an approved acaricide Reg No; NDA/MAL/VDP/2881. This drug has been approved since 2013 by NDA.
Secondly, NDA’s report states that Tick-Off has Benalaxyl at a 0.38mg/kg concentration. Once diluted in 20 liters of water, the calculation gives 0.00000000095% as the final concentration applied on the cow. This is not comparable to the concentration required for effective pharmaceutical impact of Benalaxyl.
That said, some studies have investigated the potential use of Benalaxyl for controlling specific pests. For example, a study published in the Journal of Pest Science investigated the effectiveness of Benalaxyl in controlling the pine wood nematode, a destructive pest of pine trees. The study found that Benalaxyl, applied at a concentration of 50mg/L, effectively reduced the population of pine wood nematodes in the soil.
Another study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology investigated the effectiveness of Benalaxyl for controlling the common beg bug. The study found that Benalaxyl applied at a concentration of 0.5% was not effective in killing bed bugs or reducing their reproduction.
So, here we are, again. How can a concentration of less than 0.00000000095% which was found in Tick-Off, kill ticks, pests, or cause cancer? The amount is so minute that it begs the question of why someone would labour to put in. The concentrations found are too low to have any significant pharmacological effect on ticks.
In conclusion, the scientific report released by the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory does not support the claims and statements made since the concentrations found to be present in Tick-Off are far too low to have the type of effect they were alleged.
The only plausible explanation for the presence of these compounds in the product is the existing chemical contaminants that could be present in our environment.
Ironically, some of these chemicals presented by the NDA are available in much higher concentrations in their approved products today. What are the maximum residual levels presented by NDA for each chemical.
So, the questions remain. Were the claims by NDA scientifically based or were they based on a stereotype? Can a concentration of less that 1mg of each compound found in Tick-Off, kill ticks, harm animals, or cause cancer? Are these contaminants already in our environment? And to what extent have we be exposed?