Today, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced a new public comment period to address the impact of fungicide drift coming from potato fields in Minnesota. The MDA will be reviewing information and public comments and has committed to revising its Best Management Practices (BMPs) for potato production in Minnesota. This new evaluation comes in response to the report released by Pesticide Action Network and community members in the region showing regular exposure to the fungicide chlorothalonil. Chlorothalonil is a drift-prone chemical that is classified by the EPA as a likely carcinogen and highly toxic when inhaled.
"It's great to see the Minnesota Department of Agriculture acknowledging this long-standing threat to rural health and livelihoods in Minnesota. While revising the state's voluntary best management practices will not fix the problem of fungicide drift, it is a step in the right direction. Our hope is that following this comment period the MDA will also adopt stronger regulations to protect communities in Minnesota from breathing these health-harmful fungicides." - Linda Wells, Associate Organizing Director, Pesticide Action Network
"It's wonderful that the MDA is taking notice that there's something wrong. But after all the legislative hearings that have taken place over this issue, after talking to the Asst Ag Commissioner and RDO numerous times, I'm cautious. I don't have very much confidence that anything voluntary is likely to be effective given that RDO and the Department of Agriculture have known about this problem for years. I continue to be very concerned about people who live close to these fields, and the environmental damage the potato production has caused." - Carol Ashley, resident of Park Rapids, Minnesota