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Pesticide Action Network

California Updates: January 2020

The latest out of California: Chlorpyrifos alternatives; EPA approving dangerous products; New pyrethroids study

As California is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN’s and partners’ work in California and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you’d like to recieve these updates via email, sign up here.

State updates

Chlorpyrifos alternatives listening sessions: Following the decision to cancel the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos in California, a Work Group was formed to identify sustainable alternatives. PAN Senior Scientist Margaret Reeves and Central California Environmental Justice Network’s Nayamin Martinez are both in the working group, advocating on behalf of communities and for public health. The group pulled together their preliminary recommendations, and then three listening sessions were held in Fresno, Sacramento and Oxnard to elicit comments from the public.

The majority of community members expressed their concerns about the high public health cost of using chlorpyrifos; we know we can’t just substitute one dangerous pesticide for another. But the pesticide industry was also there in full force, pushing their tired talking points around GMOs as the solution to reducing pesticide use.

Thankfully, advocates and scientists were quick to point out the fallacy of these industry arguments, and the need for the government to step up and support growers in transitioning toward safer alternatives. A shift to agroecological practices is the best solution for growers, the community and the environment.

Nationwide updates

Toxic Hangover: report released last week by our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity has some sobering findings. In 2017 and 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved more than 100 pesticide products containing ingredients widely considered to be the most dangerous still in use, including some that have been banned in multiple countries or targeted for phaseout in the U.S.

Included in the approvals are 17 new products containing the endocrine disruptor atrazine, which is banned across much of Europe, 15 new products containing neurotoxic organophosphates including chlorpyrifos, and 69 products containing a “known” or “likely” carcinogen. Read more here.

Latest science

Exposure to pyrethroids associated with risk of death: Pyrethroids are the second most popular class of insecticides used in the world, with people mainly exposed through their food (such as fruits and vegetables) and through dust in homes when these pesticides are used indoors.

A new study in the U.S. found that people with the highest exposure to pyrethroids were 56% more likely to die from any cause within the study’s follow-up period, and three times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those in the lowest group of pyrethroid exposure — indicating that a link is likely. Researchers measured exposure to two common pyrethroids via breakdown products in human urine samples collected between 1999 and 2002 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Read more here.

Upcoming events

Small Farm Conference
At this 32nd annual gathering, farmers, ranchers and local food advocates will explore hot topics in sustainable agriculture, work to bridge field and fork, sharpen their skills, network and give voice to those growing a more resilient food system from the soil up.

Take action

By February 2020, sales of the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos will be prohibited in California, and a work group is currently focused on finding alternatives to the chemical for pest management. This is a key opportunity to move California away from hazardous pesticides that harm our communities.

Tell the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) that we need safe, non-chemical alternatives to chlorpyrifos in California.

Take Action


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Picture of Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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