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Daily News Archive
From April 7, 2006                                                                                                        

Maine Citizens Ask State to Strengthen Pesticide Regulations
(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2006)
Farmers, foresters, citizens and activists converged on Bangor on March 30 and 31, 2006 to debate proposed rules to restrict pesticide use in Maine. Petitions submitted by the Maine Toxics Action Center (MTAC) and Environment Maine (EM), with over 900 signatures, advocated for rule changes that would ban all aerial spraying in Maine, would phase out organophosphate pesticides (OPs), and would repeal the $20 charge to be on the BPC's pesticide notification registry.

In two days of hearings before the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), the only common ground was a concession by many farmers that OPs were dangerous. The sides were sharply divided, however, about the advisability of instituting more protective regulations.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and the Environmental Health Strategy Center joined MTAC and EM in supporting the three petitions. They were joined by numerous citizens, some first hand victims of pesticide drift. Recently appointed Commissioner of Agriculture Seth Bradstreet opposed the petitions, and was joined by the Maine Farm Bureau, representatives of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Department of Forest Management, the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association, the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission, the Maine Potato Board, the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Agricultural Bargaining Council, and professional pesticide applicators and growers.

Maine Residents: Express Your Views on Aerial Spraying of Pesticides, Organophosphates, and Citizens' Right to Know (MOFGA Action Alert)

Public Comment Period Closes on April 14th

The Board of Pesticides Control recently held a public hearing on proposed rules that would ban aerial spraying, ban one of the most toxic classes of pesticides, and increase our right to know about pesticides in our communities. See related story. A public comment period is under way and will close at 4:00 pm on April 14th.

MOFGA is working with the Toxics Action Center to encourage the Board to adopt these important rules. Please join us in this effort. You may send comments to:

Robert Batteese
Board of Pesticides Control
28 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04330-0028

or robert.batteese@maine.gov

Why Ban Aerial Spraying?
Aerial spraying causes toxic pesticide drift problems. In Downeast communities, residents have complained for decades that their homes, their families and their farms have been hit by pesticide drift from aerial spraying. The Board of Pesticides Control has documented that aerial spraying of blueberries has drifted nearly a mile from its intended target.

State surveys show that the blueberry industry sprays at least fifteen different toxic pesticides in our communities. Of these pesticides:

  • 53% (eight) are possible carcinogens according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 40% (six) cause reproductive or developmental effects or are endocrine disruptors.
  • 60% (nine) are moderately to highly toxic through acute exposures.

Board of Pesticides Control studies show clearly that aerially sprayed pesticides are drifting directly into Maine's waterways. Community groups have also recorded pesticide drift in Maine using scientific air sampling devices. Banning aerial spraying won't cause economic problems, given that the two largest agribusinesses in Maine, Cherryfield Foods and Jasper Wyman and Son, have already stopped aerial spraying.

Why Ban Organophosphates?
Organophosphates comprise one of the most dangerous classes of pesticides. These pesticides are sold in Maine under the trade names Imidan, Guthion and Sniper. These acutely toxic pesticides weaken the immune system and have been linked to cancer and other diseases. We are calling for a ban on these pesticides because safer alternatives to these pesticides exist. Phasing out the use of these toxic pesticides will be good for workers, residents, and our environment.

Why Increase Our Right to Know?
Currently, if non-agricultural pesticides (like ChemLawn and other lawn care pesticides) are sprayed in your community, you can only find out about their use if you pay $20 annually to be on a registry. The Board of Pesticides Control is considering a rule that would make the registry free. It is important to provide the right to know for free to residents so they can make informed decisions and protect their families. The proposed rule would also provide fact sheets (Material Safety Data Sheets) about the pesticides being used so we can have more information about pesticides' health and environmental effects.