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Pesticides Stolen From Warehouses in Oxnard, CA, Safety Concerns Questioned
(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2003) Multiple, large-scale pesticide burglaries have been taking place in California this year. Since January, at least four agricultural warehouses have been raided by thieves including Mugu Farms on the Oxnard Plain, which was taken for $50,000 in insecticides and fungicides, reports the Ventura County Star. According to local farmers and the sheriff's department, it is fairly easy for a person to load the back of a pick-up truck with $60,000 worth of pesticides, and later sell them on the black market posing as pesticide brokers.

Although it is fairly common in other parts of California, Ventura County has not had this problem before this year. A possible reason that this section of the state is being targeted recently is the fact that it is home to some large conventional produce growers who keep sizable stocks of the chemicals on hand. Farmers report that an increase in strawberry production means an increase in the amount of pesticides that are being bought, stored, and eventually applied to the crops.

Making pesticides available on the black market may enable unliscensed people to gain access to hazardous materials without proper permits. If the pesticides are obtained illegally, it is more difficult to track or enforce their use. People have expressed concern that because of lax security of pesticide storage facilities and the absence of federal law in this area terrorists could gain access and stockpile hazard chemicals.

Pesticides are toxic substances designed to kill on contact. Not only are they weapons against rodents, weeds, and insects on conventional farms, their dangerous nature makes them a serious safety liability when they are unaccounted for by distributors and purchasers. The mishandling of pesticides, whether unintentional or not, could do serious health and environmental damage.