(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2008) Concern about environmental health and justice has exploded in our communities and around the world as a political and moral issue. One of the central threats, toxic pesticides, is directly linked to adverse health effects, particularly in children, and poisoning of the environment. We have learned enough in the last several decades since the publication of Silent Spring to make dramatic shifts away from toxic chemical dependency — as science increasingly links exposure to disease; insect, plant and bacteria resistance to chemicals multiplies; the energy and carbon footprint associated with pesticide use is documented; and the viability of sound and safe practices is realized.
While the shift away from pesticide dependency has begun to take hold in communities around the world, conventional chemical intensive practices in agriculture and residential and institutional management continue to pose unjustifiable and unwarranted hazards. Regulatory standards and underlying laws accept unnecessary risks for workers that handle and work around pesticides and children who eat treated food, breathe contaminated air, or touch toxic surfaces.
Studies link pesticides to cancer and immune, reproductive and nervous system damage. Subtle low level exposure effects that cause learning disabilities or impede brain function defy classical dose-makes-the-poison theory and show elevated effect at lower doses. Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation is intended to hone our knowledge of the latest science and real world experiences from around the world to inform our activism as effective agents to protect health and the environment, today and for the next generation. We will share experiences and models that have met with success, as well as challenges that must be overcome. The program’s issue and strategy discussions cut across topics affecting the health of children, workers, families, and communities; justice for those most affected by pesticides; and a food system that protects, rather than threatens, the sustainability of the planet.
The Forum is an opportunity to develop new strategies for restructuring our approaches to eliminating toxic chemicals in the management of land, agriculture, and buildings. We begin the Forum with the inspiration and words of Rachel Carson, leading us to renew our energy in the fight against chemicals that destroy the very natural environment that we depend on for life. We do this with a sense of urgency and a spirit of resolve that solutions are within our grasp. — Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides; Kathryn Gilje, PANNA; David Chatfield, CPRReclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation, the 26th National Pesticide Forum will be held March 14-16 at the University of California Berkeley Clark Kerr Conference Center. The full program is now available online. For full details and registration, visit the forum web page.