Last fall PAN partnered with Justin Matlow, a concerned parent and teacher in the heart of California's strawberry-growing country, to monitor for pesticide drift. Today — to mark Cesar Chavez day — we joined Justin, farmworker advocates and other community partners to release our findings.
California officials appear poised to make a decision that would spell safer strawberry fields and spur farmer innovation away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer solutions. That is, if pesticide proponents don’t get in the way.
After months of delay and years of review, next Friday the state plans to release a new series of "mitigations" (government speak for "protections") for the difficult-to-control fumigant pesticide called chloropicrin. And after a prolonged public hearing and comment process, the adequacy of these protections — from no-spray buffer zones to public disclosure issues — will be under intense scrutiny.
Last year, thanks to incredible public outcry, cancer-causing methyl iodide was taken off the market. But other fumigant pesticides are still in wide use on strawberry fields and beyond, and they are among the most toxic and difficult-to-control agricultural chemicals.
Recognizing their hazardous nature, EPA is currently reviewing the federal rules for drift-prone fumigants — years earlier than the normal review cycle.
In a letter submitted yesterday, scientists called out California officials for downplaying evidence of health hazards — including cancer — posed by a widely used fumigant pesticide.
Often applied to the state's strawberry fields, new rules may pave the way for even more use of chloropicrin unless policymakers follow recommendations from both state and independent scientists. This story is all too familiar.
Seven years. Scientists tell us that's the window in the first years of life when children are most vulnerable to pesticide harms. That's also exactly how long EPA has — so far — delayed putting rules in place to protect kids from pesticides that drift from agricultural fields.
Bottom line? While regulators think about what to do, an entire generation of rural kids has experienced increased risk of harms that can last a lifetime. Health risks from early life pesticide exposure are very real, and can be serious. Science points to falling IQs, ADHD, learning disabilities, birth defects and, in some cases, cancer. That's why this week, we're taking EPA to court for being too darn slow.
Last Thursday, I joined about 50 farmworker, health and sustainable farming advocates in Sacramento to cheer California on towards fumigant-free farming. We were there to urge legislators to support new technologies and practices that will make agriculture in the state more sustainable and resilient.
Fumigants are among the most hazardous pesticides on the market, and their continued use threatens the health of California communities. But transitioning away from these chemicals won’t happen if pesticidemakers, and their lobbyists and allies roaming the Capitol's halls, get their way.
After cancer-causing methyl iodide was pulled from the U.S. market last year, California state officials convened a panel to investigate ending reliance on all fumigant pesticides (like methyl iodide) in strawberry fields.
Yesterday, the Department of Pesticide Regulation released the panel's report detailing current research to help strawberry growers transition away from using fumigant pesticides. And while farmers, scientists and health advocates welcome the report, many are calling for bolder, swifter action.
In March, we stopped the pesticide industry from pushing a cancer-causing chemical into California strawberry fields. Together, we won an incredible victory when Arysta LifeScience — maker of methyl iodide — pulled its hazardous product off the U.S. market.
Now, we turn to "what's next," the important work of ensuring that strawberries truly get off the pesticide treadmill.
Timing is everything. On March 20, Arysta LifeScience pulled its cancer-causing pesticide, methyl iodide, from the U.S. market. The decision came after years of public outcry against the undue influence that Arysta, the largest privately held pesticide corporation in the world, had on science and governance during the rulemaking.
Interestingly enough, Arysta's decision was announced on the eve of a critical hearing in the methyl iodide lawsuit that Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance filed on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, farmworkers, Californians for Pesticide Reform and many others.