(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2013) On June 4, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law the State Integrated Pest Management Act (HB 3364) which strengthens and improves coordination among state agency programs that implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on state-owned and leased properties. The bill passed in the Oregon House on a 51-9 vote and went on to pass in the Oregon Senate on a 24-6 vote last month. According to Beyond Toxics, the statewide environmental health organization that helped to draft the bill, though the new law does not outright ban pesticides, the state will see less pesticide use as well as more accountability and public input regarding state pesticide policy. It is an important step toward ending toxic dependency on harmful pesticides, and it joins other states seeking to reduce pesticide use. See Beyond Pesticides’ report Ending Toxic Dependency: The State of IPM. Organizers in Oregon also hope that the new law will set the stage for future improvements to forest practices and riparian restorations.
Chief bill sponsors include Senator Chris Edwards (D-Lane County) and Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Multnomah County). Dr. Paul Jepson, Oregon’s State IPM Coordinator and a professor at Oregon State University was also a key champion of the bill; he was able to convince OSU’s School of Agriculture to pledge $25,000 towards IPM implementation for state agencies.
“The passage of the bill shows strong bi-partisan support for better management of both pests and pest control strategies, as well as tracking and measuring the effectiveness of pesticides on public land,” said Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics. “IPM programs consistently reduce pesticides while simultaneously solving pest problems.”
Beyond Toxics introduced the bill, initially called the Safe Public Places Act, after examining hundreds of herbicide spray records for tax payer funded projects and found that millions of dollars are regularly spent to reduce pests and that it is common for state agencies to spend public money on some products that contaminate ground water, harm fish or are human carcinogens. The legislation builds on a 2012 executive order by Governor Kitzhaber encouraging the use of environmentally-friendly materials and avoiding toxic chemicals, as well as a 2009 bill requiring IPM for schools.
According to The Oregonian, the first version of the bill allowed the use of “low-impact” pesticides only as a last resort if nonchemical pest control measures were not effective, and barred routine use of carcinogenic pesticides and those with high toxicity to fish, animals and beneficial insects, such as bees. The law that passed eliminates those details and includes “selective use of pesticides” among a list of techniques to be considered. It calls for both preventing “unacceptable levels of pest damage” and for pesticide use that “poses the least possible risk to people, property, resources and the environment.”
“It’s not a ban on pesticides,” Ms. Arkin told The Oregonian. “But, hopefully, (pesticide use) will be more selective and we’ll look at alternatives first.”
“I think there is a lot more awareness, and more data that have been done, to link the consequences of pesticides and harmful chemicals to cancers,” Representative Keny-Guyer told Beyond Toxics.
Beautiful landscapes do not require toxic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes webpage provides information on pesticide hazards and information on organic management strategies. The site also provides an online training, Organic Land Care Basic Training for Municipal Officials and Transitioning Landscapers, to assist in going pesticide-free. With the training, landscapers can learn the practical steps to transitioning to a natural program. Or, you can order Pesticide Free Zone yard signs to display to your neighbors. For assistance in proposing a policy to your city council (or its equivalent), contact Beyond Pesticides at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.