Cape Times reports that farm workers face being regularly tested for alcohol in an effort to curb the number of children born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said that talks were set to begin for a pilot testing project. He was speaking at a meeting on Tuesday hosted by Premier Helen Zille in Wellington, where about 300 local farmers, farmworker NGOs and government officials gathered to discuss the far-reaching effects of FAS. The Western Cape has one of the highest incidences of FAS in the world, and a recent study has found that 8.8% of people in Wellington have FAS. Zille said FAS was a legacy of the ‘dop’ system. She went on to say: ”FAS is 100 percent preventable and 100 percent irreversible.

FAS is a very serious problem, to the extent that we did a survey in one small town on the West Coast and they found that almost 30 percent of people in that area were suffering some form of mental impairment, primarily due to FAS.” Zille indicated that the effects of the dop system lived on in the province and appealed to locals to inform her if the practice was still prevalent. Winde said the agricultural sector employed 129,000 people and substance abuse was an increasing threat to the growing sector. He reported that a mining company in Saldanha alcohol-tested all employees daily to ensure none of its workers were under the influence while operating machinery.