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Ban Aerial Pesticide Spraying for Deforestation Purposes

May 21, 2019

Please Contact Members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee
and Urge Support for
LD 1691 - An Act To Ban Use of Aerial Herbicide Spraying for the Purpose of Deforestation

Maine has an opportunity for another bold step forward in protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides. This Thursday, May 23rd, at 1:00 p.m., the Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) will hold a work session on LD 1691 - An Act To Ban Use of Aerial Herbicide Spraying for the Purpose of Deforestation.

MOFGA strongly supports this bill. Here's why:

• Pesticides have been linked to asthma, cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and liver damage.

• Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure.

• Pesticides also negatively impact wildlife and the environment. Aquatic animals are extremely sensitive to pesticide runoff.

• The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 33% of major aquifers and 50% of shallow wells contain one or more pesticides at detectable levels. Maine has no meaningful pesticide spray buffer zones to protect communities from pesticide drift.

• Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup) is an herbicide of particular concern and is commonly used in aerial spray operations in large-scale forestry management. In 2015, the World Health Organization deemed glyphosate "probably carcinogenic to humans". California includes glyphosate on a list of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects. Three juries in California have determined that Roundup has caused serious human illness and, most recently, found Monsanto liable for $2.1 billion.

• Aerial spraying exacerbates the problems of pesticide poisoning because it inevitably results in off-target drift.

• Maine residents have complained for decades that their homes, their families and their farms have been hit by pesticide drift from aerial spraying.

• Maine's Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) has documented that aerial spraying of blueberries has drifted nearly a mile from its intended target.

• BPC studies show clearly that aerially sprayed pesticides are drifting directly into Maine's waterways.

• The Canadian Journal of Forest Research recently reported that the herbicide glyphosate, commonly used in aerial spray operations after forest clearcutting, is shown to leave detectable levels of the pesticide in wild, edible plants up to a year after application.

• Organic producers are concerned about the potential loss in value of certified crops due to pesticides drift. Because there are inadequate buffer zone protections in place in Maine, organic growers have to sacrifice buffer zones on their own property to protect themselves from conventional pesticides sprayed on adjacent properties.

• A notable and tragic example of this is MOFGA-Certified Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater. Forty years ago, Wood Prairie Farm was a casualty of off-target aerial spraying of the carcinogenic neurotoxin carbaryl for Spruce Budworm. Wood Prairie Farm owners Jim and Megan Gerritsen were rightfully concerned about family, livestock, crop, water, air and soil exposure to the insecticide. To make matters worse, they lost their organic certification for three years. Through the decades the Gerritsens have been concerned about nearby forestry spraying and, once again, are on alert because of forestry operations on an adjacent property - activity that generally leads to aerial herbicide spraying of vegetative growth that competes with conifers.

• Aerial spraying of pesticides is a violation of the public's right to clean air, water and soil.

• Aerial spraying of herbicides for deforestation in Maine must stop. Maine can rethink and invigorate its forest ecology and economy, improve timber yield and quality, and increase the sequestration of carbon.

What's Next

After a legislative work session, a committee generally votes on a bill and makes a recommendation to the full legislature about whether the bill should pass. The ACF is likely to make its recommendation this Thursday.

Please contact members of the committee and urge their support for this important bill.

Phone calls are best. Email messages are great too.

Use this link below to submit comments to all committee members quickly. You'll need to select the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, then select May 9, 2019 (the date of the initial hearing on this bill - it's ok, you can still submit comments!), and then select LD 1691.

If you would like to focus on particular members of the ACF Committee, here is the individual contact information:

    Senator Jim Dill - [email protected] - Phone: 207-287-1515
    Senator Russell Black - [email protected] - Phone: 207-287-1505
    Senator Bill Diamond - [email protected] - Phone: 207-287-1515
    Representative Craig Hickman - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Randy Hall - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Mary Anne Kinney - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Ted Kryzak - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Chloe Maxmin - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative David McCrea - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Maggie O'Neil - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Bill Pluecker - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Tiffany Roberts-Lovell - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900
    Representative Thomas Skolfield - [email protected] - Phone: 800-423-2900

Please also contact your own legislators and urge their support for a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides for deforestation purposes. Again, phone calls are best!

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