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New Report Calls For Farm Worker Protection from Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2005)
National and state farm worker organizations called upon Washington Governor Gregoire and the Bush Administration today to take immediate action to protect farm workers in light of disturbing medical monitoring results in Washington State. The groups co-released the report Messages from Monitoring, which discusses the results and other studies bearing on exposures experienced by farm workers and their children. The report criticizes state and federal agencies for failing to protect the farm worker community, and identifies several recent Washington State actions that have rolled back protections.

“Pesticides are causing major nervous system changes in one of five workers who regularly handle them. Farm workers’ children have nerve poisons flowing through their bodies,” said Carol Dansereau, Director of the Farm Worker Pesticide Project, a non-profit organization in Washington State. “If that’s not a public health crisis demanding immediate action, I don’t know what is.”

“Clearly there is something wrong in the fields,” said Erik Nicholson, Pacific Northwest Regional Director of United Farm Workers. “Farm workers deserve and are demanding, real and immediate solutions to this crisis, not bandaids.”

“Results from Washington State show that a medical monitoring program to protect pesticide handlers should be instituted nationwide,” said Shelley Davis, co-executive director of Farmworker Justice Fund, a national education and advocacy center for migrant and seasonal farm workers based in Washington, D.C. “In addition EPA should act promptly to phase out highly toxic pesticides which cannot be applied safely,” said Davis.

“A new state bill gives legislators and the Governor a chance to begin addressing this problem,” said Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council. “It’s time to phase out the worst pesticides, and to require basic interim protections like closed systems for mixing and loading pesticides.”

“We know that pesticide rules are not being enforced,” said farm worker Martin Rios of Sunnyside, Washington. “We demand to be protected.”

TAKE ACTION: Write to U.S.EPA Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson and demand adequate protection for farm workers from the dangers of pesticides. Use information from the new report.