Ron Speaks Truth about Pesticides

It started when we joined with Adam Vega for the founding of the Ventura County Coalition Advocating Pesticide Safety (VC-CAPS) in 2018. Adam introduced us to Californians for Pesticide Reform and we started sitting in on the “Alternatives Call”.  A big opportunity came up when Governor Newsom formed a new group under the Department of Pesticide Regulation called the Sustainable Pest Management Work Group with an assignment for a multi-stakeholder group to develop a framework for moving away from toxic pesticide use.  The group got more acquainted in July during its first field trip to farms in Watsonville.

CA Sustainable Pest Management Work Group visits the Driscoll's Research Farm in Watsonville on July 21, 2021.
SPM Work Group at Driscoll’s Research Farm July 21, 2021.

Ron is challenging the compromises society has made with polluting industries. He is calling for honest science to support rational pest management decisions. There is broad representation in the work group from commodity groups, pesticide manufacturers, and environmental justice leaders fighting to protect farm workers.  Ron is an ally of farm workers, a scientist and licensed professional Pest Control Adviser, whose outlook is that our life support system is failing and we have an existential imperative to change or write off our species.

While some around the table in such discussions believe it’s about ensuring that people follow the pesticide label to be safe, Ron cites the long-standing corruption at the US Environmental Protection Agency that registers products and decides how safe they are. They do that by simply asking pesticide manufacturers to supply the results of their trials to measure effectiveness and toxicity. The companies do the trials or they contract with specialized labs.

It’s becoming apparent that he who pays the piper calls the tune. A number of labs have been caught faking the data. The registration of Roundup (glyphosate) is a good example. Monsanto admitted that the toxicity study was flawed and agreed to repeat it, but never did. Monsanto made a science of how to do bad science. What is the extent of this misrepresentation? How many pesticides should have been put into higher toxicity classes—danger instead of warning or caution? Or should it have never been registered because it is just too toxic?  The evidence is mounting that no pesticide is safe when used according to label directions.  As Ron says, “The EPA needs a sticker or a rubber stamp that says ‘Incompatible with Life’ to stamp on applications based on questionable science.  Major industries that pollute and harm living things with impunity need to be shut down.”

The pesticide labels are one problem. The process of permitting at the field level is also in question. There is no way for farm workers and people on or near farms to know when there will be a spray and what the pesticide is. Farm workers have a right to know even if the label is based on fake safety studies.  VC-CAPS new leader Teresa Gomez organized a meeting with the Ventura County Agriculture Commissioner and deputies last week .  It was a positive discussion about how to protect farm workers and their families in the area around local farms. We were encouraged to propose a pilot project for text notification of sprays.

Source: Amadeo Sumano Sept 24 Oxnard 🌍🌍Essentials (🙌💯💯🍓🍓. Saludo de parte de nuestra comunidad campesinas locales 😊💯.
Source: Amadeo Sumano, Oxnard, CA Sept 24, 2021

We believe that if those who want to use chemicals that could poison people, wildlife, soil microbes, bees, beneficials, bats, butterflies–if they were required to notify workers and neighbors in advance, there would be a lot less unnecessary use of toxic pesticides.  The users of toxic pesticides would be motivated to learn agroecological systems that prevent pests and disease, i.e. cultural practices to grow healthy plants that resist pests, habitat enhancements for natural biological control and beneficial releases when nature is a little too little and a little too late.

All this talk may not get us too far, but it’s good to be at the table.

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