Daily News Archive
Farm Lobbyist to Run Pesticide Department
(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2004)
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday appointed a former
agriculture lobbyist to become the state's top pesticide regulator,
according to the LA
Times. The appointment of Mary-Ann Warmerdam came despite complaints
from environmentalists about her ties to the farm lobby and the pesticide
industry that she would now police.
Warmerdam is expected
to take over the Department of Pesticide Regulation next month, the
LA Times reports. She is currently a lobbyist for Pacific Gas
& Electric, but worked for nearly two decades for the California
Farm Bureau Federation, from 1981 to 2001.
Pesticide reform advocates addressed the issue when top-level members
of nine environmental groups wrote a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger
asking him to delay Warmerdam's appointment, stating that she did not
have a record of evaluating pesticides or state and federal pesticide
laws. They also questioned the appointment of someone "who has
a long history with the California Farm Bureau Federation — an
organization that has a long tradition in California of fighting efforts
to protect public health and the environment from pesticide use."
Despite the severe conflict of interest, Schwarzenegger said he is confident
Warmerdam "will continue to maintain California's high standards
of protection for both the environment and human health." The governor's
office said Warmerdam would not be available for comment, according
to the LA Times.
Warmerdam had originally planned a meeting with environmentalists to
discuss concerns, which was scheduled for August 17. However, the meeting
was cancelled after the environmentalists’ letter was published
in the LA Times, according to Bill Magavern, a lobbyist with the Sierra
For now, environmentalists
are holding off from formally opposing the former lobbyist’s confirmation
by the State Senate and will wait to judge her actions in office. "At
that point we will make a decision based on her performance in office
rather than her prior history," Magavern said. "We're not
saying just because she worked for the Farm Bureau that she must be
bad. It just kind of raises caution."
Among the pesticide issues on which environmentalists will be evaluating
Warmerdam, are pesticide drift, farmworker health, and reformed pesticide
use in “sustainable” agriculture.
TAKE ACTION: Contact Gov. Schwarzenegger to
let him know your concerns about Warmerdam’s appointment. You
can write to him at State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814, or
reach him by phone at 916-445-2841, fax at 916-445-4633, or by email.