Pesticides: In the News and All Around Us
Who decides which pesticides can be approved for use – are these “forever” decisions?
Saturday, September 21, 2019
1 to 2:30 p.m. on the Spotlight Stage
Join us to learn how pesticides are evaluated by state and federal authorities. Pesticides are available for sale in hardware, grocery and farm stores as well as greenhouses. All are toxic to varying degrees. Homeowners can buy many pesticides, but some are available only to licensed professionals. Many farmers count on pesticides to meet their bottom line and would be challenged to farm without them. By law, organic farmers cannot use most synthetic pesticides, so they continuously adjust farming practices to manage rising disease and insect problems. Meanwhile, homeowners are at the short end of the process – not knowing how to determine what is least toxic, what alternative controls might be used, why a pesticide is on the market and what they can do to be involved.
The teach-in brings together panelists who have been directly involved in the pesticide journey. They will provide an overview of the regulatory process, explain the role of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), our legislature, our communities and you.
They will illustrate this process by looking closely at chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide widely used around the globe. Chlorpyrifos and some other organophosphates were banned in 2001 for homeowner use because of their toxicity. Under President Obama, the EPA was in the process of banning chlorpyrifos in agriculture, but in July 2019 the Trump administration overturned the action.
Before it was banned in 2001 for homeowner use, chlorpyrifos was the most widely used residential insecticide. The World Health Organization considers chlorpyrifos, patented in 1966, moderately hazardous at acute toxicity levels. Regarding chronic toxicity, various studies have linked it to endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver damage, and birth and developmental defects, as well as toxicity to birds, bees and aquatic organisms. California, Hawaii and New York have taken action to ban its use.
What role does scientific research have in pesticide regulation? How do corporations that make these pesticides get their views heard? Do they represent the interests of farmers? How can the voices of citizens and organic farmers be heard?
Our outstanding panel includes Sharon Tisher, J.D, who teaches environmental law and policy at the University of Maine, is a past president of MOFGA, reported on the Maine BPC for The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener for many years and is the author of the Pesticides Quiz; Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and a frequent Common Ground Country Fair speaker; Carol L. Hubbard, M.D., who works in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Maine Medical Partners; and Nancy Ross, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of political science at the Southern Maine Community College, retired professor of environmental policy at Unity College, former deputy commissioner at the Maine Department of Conservation and former executive director of MOFGA. We will learn about the work of federal and state staff who are expected to serve the public and respond to diverse constituents.
Please join us. In just a short time, you will learn so much and find new ways to get involved.