Key Democrats oppose bill to repeal pesticide notification system, decry question limitations
Maine Legislature House Democratic Office
www.housedemocrats.maine.gov <http://www.housedemocrats.maine.gov/>

For Immediate Release
April 8, 2011
Contact: Jodi Quintero [McCabe, O’Brien], 287-1488, c. 841-6279

Key Democrats oppose bill to repeal pesticide notification system, decry question limitations

AUGUSTA – Key Democrats on the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee today announced they opposed a full scale repeal of the pesticide notification law that had a public hearing on Thursday before the committee. The committee considered two proposals to scale back consumer protections that require farmers who spray pesticide applications to notify neighboring abutters who sign up on an internet-based registry prior to spraying.

“We believe providing a reasonable notification system is a common sense solution that helps address concerns Maine people and families have about pesticides,” said Jeff McCabe, who serves as the Democratic lead on the Agriculture Committee. “Many people signed up for the system and have a right to know. This is not a partisan issue nor should it be viewed as conventional agriculture verses organic agriculture. We have a system it is not perfect but we have a chance to make adjustments.”

The Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control confirmed over a decade ago that pesticide spray drift contamination from aerial applications on blueberry fields can reach up to 1,500 feet from sampling site.

Drift of spray and dust from pesticide applications can expose people, wildlife, and the environment to pesticide residues that can cause health and environmental effects and property damage, according to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.

Pesticides can cause birth defects, cancer, asthma, developmental disabilities, and even death. They also can contaminate organically grown produce, making it unfit to market as organic and leading to economic losses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that the majority of people in the U.S. have detectable concentrations of multiple pesticide residues in their bodies. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 90 percent of all fish, 100 percent of all streams, 33 percent of major aquifers, and 50 percent of shallow wells contain one or more pesticides at detectable levels.

“We worked in good faith to try to broker a compromise that would balance the needs of farmers and their neighbors during the last session,” said Rep. Andy O’Brien of Lincolnville, who serves on the committee and sponsored the law during the last legislative session that scaled back the pesticide notification system that farmers said was too onerous. “Many stakeholders came together to reach a compromise to create a simple and fair system that these bills will undermine.”

O’Brien’s law created an internet-based system designed to help land managers identify and contact neighbors who want advance notice of planned pesticide applications. His proposal significantly modified a 2009 law that mandated direct, pre-season, written notification of abutters of land being sprayed with aerial or air-carrier technology.
It also established a notification registry for all people wanting information about aerial and air carrier applications taking place within 1,320 feet of their properties and applied to all sectors using aerial or air carrier pesticide spray technologies.

Democrats on the committee were frustrated when Republican committee chairs departed from established procedure by preventing thorough questioning from members who were trying to make informed policy decisions.

“We are elected to represent the people of Maine and asking questions during a public hearing is part of that,” said Rep. McCabe. “We are all mindful of time constraints but rushing or limiting the process is not the way to make good policy decisions.”

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Posted on 4/8/2011 (Archive on 4/29/2011)
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