This week marks the end of chlorpyrifos sales in California. After the exhausting saga of pesticide industry influence and ignored science that resulted in EPA reversing the planned national ban of the brain-harming chemical in 2017, this concrete step forward for California is momentous.
Each year since Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant Xtend seeds hit the market, farmers and rural communities have braced for record levels of damaging pesticide drift. And each year, it’s happened.
New research from University of Iowa has some sobering findings on the impacts of exposure to pyrethroids. The study found that people with the highest exposure to the widely used pesticides were three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease — and 56% more likely to die from any cause within the study's follow-up period — than those with low or no exposure.
Farmworkers are already some of the least protected workers in the country. And EPA is proposing to weaken an existing rule protecting farmworkers and their communities from pesticide spray drift — the application exclusion zone, or AEZ — a provision in the Worker Protection Standard.
In 2017 and 2018 the U.S. 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.
Reflecting back on 2019, I’m feeling inspired, appreciative — and energized.
I’m inspired by the momentum that’s building to make the changes our food system needs. California and New York took the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos off the market, building on last year’s successful legislative ban in Hawai’i.
In countries around the world, evidence of the devastating effects of highly hazardous pesticides on people’s health and the environment is on the rise. The introduction of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered seeds in the 90s has led to a resurgence of chemical sales and widespread drift of harmful herbicides like glyphosate and dicamba. Corporate consolidation has enabled three mega-pesticide companies to capture over 70% of the global pesticide market and 60% of commercial seed sales. In the U.S., this corporate power translates directly into political power, and has led to the unraveling of critical health and environmental protections.
This year has been marked by encouraging and long-overdue progress toward eradicating the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos. Following on the heels of Hawaii's ban of the chemical last year, California will phase out chlorpyrifos starting early next year. And as 2019 comes to a close, we can add two more huge victories to the list.
Each year on December 3, we join our PAN International colleagues across the globe to mark the anniversary of the deadly pesticide plant leak in Bhopal, India. Today is the 35th anniversary of that tragic event.
As a mom and a children’s health advocate, I have a deep personal connection to PAN’s work. We all know how important it is to create a world that’s healthy and safe for our kids, and when it comes to food and farming, PAN is getting it done. That’s why I’ve been a proud member of the Board of Directors for the past seven years, and now serve as PAN’s Board Chair.