PROTECTION FROM PESTICIDE MISUSE:
As any regular reader of this blog knows Molly is the furthest thing from a "health food nut". Quite frankly I think that the touchingly naive belief in magic words such as "organic" or "natural" reminds me of nothing more than the article of faith of a good Catholic that after magic words being said over unleavened bread and diluted wine that it is really "the body and blood of Christ". Perhaps transubstantiation may have even more logic to it. Yet...without supervision agricultural companies are more than willing to misuse chemicals to the extent that their residues actually are toxic. Because of the profit motive they are even more willing to expose their workers to obviously toxic concentrations of certain chemicals.
The following appeal for solidarity from the American United Farm Workers is about this issue, about the exposure of consumers and, especially, workers to toxic amounts of certain pesticides.
Agricultural company wreaks havoc. Tell new EPA chief to protect us from pesticide abusers.:
N.J. fines Florida-based tomato grower one million dollars for misuse of pesticides
Calling the violations "the most serious...ever uncovered," the state Department of Environmental Protection fined a Florida tomato growing company nearly $1 million for improperly using pesticides on 17 fields it operates in New Jersey, putting workers and consumers alike in jeopardy.
Ag-Mart Produce Inc., which has an office in Cedarville, Cumberland County, is already facing fines and charges of pesticide misuse in North Carolina, where female employees claim their babies were born with serious defects...
--The Star Ledger, 1/29/08
According to news reports, New Jersey’s state Department of Environmental Protection cited Ag-Mart for hundreds of violations, claiming Ag-Mart denied state investigators access to facilities, applied pesticides to tomatoes more frequently than permitted and on 17 occasions harvested and shipped pesticide-sprayed tomatoes before they were safe for public consumption.
The state also charged Ag-Mart with careless record-keeping, failing to properly ventilate areas during pesticide use, failing to post pesticide-safety information for workers, using forbidden mixtures of pesticides and losing track of a 2.5-gallon container of toxic insecticide. The fines linked to the violations total $931,250.
In a statement put out by the NJ Department of Pesticides, Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello said, "Ag-Mart has repeatedly shown a stunning disregard of laws and regulations intended to protect the workers who harvest their tomatoes, the people who consume them and New Jersey's environment. Ag-Mart's pesticide violations are the most serious DEP inspectors have ever uncovered. We have imposed a record-high penalty not only to hold Ag-Mart accountable for their failure, but to make sure it doesn't happen again."
It’s great that New Jersey took action. But more needs to be done on a national level. We need the federal EPA to protect us from big companies like Ag-Mart who deal on a national scale and have repeat violations.
President Obama has just appointed a new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who also hails from New Jersey. In a January 23 memo to her new EPA staff, Jackson said, “It is clear that we are not doing an adequate job of assessing and managing the risks of chemicals in consumer products, the workplace and the environment. It is now time to revise and strengthen EPA's chemicals management and risk assessment programs.”
This is an admirable goal. Please e-mail EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and tell her we look forward to seeing it put into action. The time for change is now. Her office carries the huge task of protecting the American people—consumers and farm workers alike—and we need the EPA to ensure situations such as happened with Ag-Mart do not occur again.
Please go to THIS LINK to send the following letter to the new head of the EPA.
Congratulations on your appointment as the new head of the Environmental
Protection Agency. It is exciting to have someone in office who can live up to
the ideals of the new Obama administration.
The American people--both consumers and farm
workers alike--need you to make one of your first priorities to protect us from
For example, according to The Star Ledger, on
January 29, New Jersey fined Florida-based tomato grower Ag-Mart one million
dollars for misuse of pesticides calling the violations, "the most
serious...ever uncovered." Florida based Ag-Mart Produce Inc. is already facing
fines and charges of pesticide abuse in North Carolina, where female employees
claim their babies were born with serious defects including a little boy born
without arms and legs.
The American people need the federal EPA to
shield us from big companies like Ag-Mart who deal on a national scale and or
have repeat violations.
In a January 23 memo to your new EPA staff,
you said, "It is clear that we are not doing an adequate job of assessing and
managing the risks of chemicals in consumer products, the workplace and the
environment. It is now time to revise and strengthen EPA's chemicals management
and risk assessment programs."
The United Farm Workers believes this is an
admirable goal. I look forward to seeing it put into action. Your office carries
the huge task of protecting us and we need the EPA to ensure situations such as
happened with Ag-Mart do not occur again.
Please write to tell me how you are going to
respond to these worst offenders and how you are going to ensure the present
laws are fully enforced.