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Discussing pesticide use in agriculture with 2 California organizations

FRESNO, California (KFSN) – On Earth Day, we dive deep into pesticide use and spoke with two organizations: Western Plant Health and United Farm Workers.

While both agree that improvements can be made, everyone has very different views.

“On May 1, 2018, a group of women were picking cabbages in Bakersfield,” says Eriberto Fernandez with United Farm Workers. “Fifty of them started to feel a numbness in their tongue. They started to feel nauseous, they have eye irritation and one of them fainted right there in the field.”

Fernandez describes a time when farmers were caught in the middle of a pesticide escape.

“The biggest problem is the exposure to pesticides, the shift of pesticides, the exposure to toxic chemicals that have long-term effects on human health,” he said.

Rene Pinel with Western Plant Health says California has strict laws on pesticide use and that each product label comes with specific instructions for proper use.

On average, it takes 10 to 15 years for a chemical product to be approved and the process involves more than 300 scientific studies on the product itself.

But Fernandez says more needs to be done.

“The solution would be to enforce existing regulatory rules for pesticides that protect farmers and reduce our dependence on the use of highly toxic chemicals,” he said.

There are currently dozens of new and improved pesticides waiting to hit the market.

“Until we register them, then that’s the challenge,” Pinel said. “Pests are not going to wait until we have these new products.”

If pesticides are not applied safely, farmers run the risk of being fined by commissioners and may face civil penalties.

“The same agricultural service that is responsible for promoting agriculture and farming is the same industry that ensures that pesticide regulations and rules are enforced,” Fernandez said.

Just this year, the California Attorney General, the Department of Pesticides, and the San Joaquin DA County Office found that Alpine Helicopter Services had failed to safely apply pesticides in five cases.

Part of the problem, Eriberto says, is that companies are increasingly taking over farming and family farms – making farms more impersonal.

But the fight for improved safety and chemical regulations continues.

“We certainly do not claim it is good enough,” Pinel said. “Everyone wants to get better, our members spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research every year.”

Independently, both parties say their goal is to find the safest and healthiest way to produce more than 400 products in the state of California.

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Discussing pesticide use in agriculture with 2 California organizations Source link Discussing pesticide use in agriculture with 2 California organizations

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