Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

California Updates: May 2022

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 receive these updates via email, sign up here.

Hi California Supporters!

I hope this email finds you energized and enjoying the warmer weather! I usually feel most productive this time of year – very convenient given this has been a busy time for us as new bills make their way through the legislative approval process. Check out some of the policies we are supporting below, as well as some other key updates on our work on climate change policies and genetically engineered mosquitoes.

Thank you for all you do to support this important work!

ahsa sharmaWishing you health and a glorious rest of your spring,

Asha Sharma
Organizing Co-Director, California

Lots moving in the legislature!

This year, we are supporting many bills on farmworker health and safety and sustainable agriculture. We recently received good news that a key bill we have been backing (AB 2499) was passed by the Assembly agriculture committee. This bill would would provide funding and support to low-resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to transition to organic farming. This is an important first step to the bill becoming law.

Here are some other policies we’re excited about:

  • AB 2082 would require Cal/OSHA, the state agency tasked with ensuring worker health and safety, to provide better language accessibility and outreach to Indigenous farmworkers in California
  • SB 462 would extend food assistance to undocumented people in California through the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) so they receive the same benefits as SNAP recipients.
  • AB 2146 would ban all residential uses of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to declines in pollinator health. Read more about the dangers of neonics and our work to minimize their use here.
  • We continue to support increased funding in the state budget this year for various sustainable and equitable food and farming programs. See our letter of support here for more details.
  • We also submitted a letter to legislators requesting funding for farmworker housing, housing weatherization, and an emergency notification system to alert farmworkers about heat and smoke events.

New program for sustainable pest management

As you might remember, a priority of our California work is to ensure that reductions in chemical pesticide use are considered a key tactic in combating climate change. We recently received good news that the new California Extreme Heat Action Plan includes the creation of a state program to provide technical assistance to small, underserved, and urban farmers to help them adopt more ecologically-friendly pest management practices.

Researchers are expecting an increase in pesticide exposure if urgent action to reduce our dependence on these toxic chemicals is not taken. The inclusion of ecological pest management in this climate adaptation plan demonstrates that the California government is acknowledging this reality and taking important first steps in moving our farming systems towards more ecologically-sound practices.

GE Mosquitos

The Department of Pesticide Regulation is considering authorizing the release of up to 2 billion genetically engineered mosquitoes to reduce the mosquito population in Tulare county. We are opposing their release given the lack of scientific research on this particular type of genetically engineered mosquito. Potential unexamined risks like the creation of new, hybrid mosquitos that are more resistant to pesticides. Help support our opposition by signing onto this action alert from our partners Friends of the Earth.

Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

Asha has a decade of experience as an environmental and agricultural justice campaigner, organizer and researcher. She is passionate about agroecology and supporting food-growing communities in building power. Her previous work at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Mighty Earth resulted in dozens of agricultural and food companies improving their conservation and human rights standards and practices. She received her M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. Asha is from Dallas, Texas and currently lives in Berkeley, California. In her free time, she loves to cook, garden and hike with her dog Frankie.

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