Daily News Archive
June 13, 2006
Forces EPA to Take Action to Protect Farmworkers
(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2006) The
Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will phase out
the use of the highly toxic organophosphate, azinphos-methyl (AZM) that
poisons farmworkers within four years. EPA took the action as part of
a settlement of a lawsuit brought by United Farm Workers of America
(“UFW”), Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Pineros y Campesinos
Unidos del Noroeste (“PCUN”), Beyond Pesticides, and Frente
Indígena Oaxaqueño Binacional farmworkers, challenging
EPA’s decision to allow continued use of this pesticide.
“EPA had turned its back on the men, women, and children who are
threatened by an extremely hazardous pesticide that should be replaced
with new safer alternatives,” said Shelley Davis, attorney for
the Farmworker Justice. “It is time to make that shift now.”
2001, EPA had found that AZM poses unacceptable risks to workers, but
it allowed the pesticide to continue to be used for four more years
because less toxic alternatives were more costly. Farmworker advocates
had challenged that decision in federal court in Seattle because EPA
failed to account for the costs of poisoning workers, exposing children,
and polluting rivers and streams to the detriment of endangered species.
its proposed decision, EPA would phase out all uses of AZM by 2010 with
some uses phased out by 2007. The decision would also eliminate aerial
spraying, require 100 foot buffers around water bodies, reduce application
rates, require buffers around buildings and occupied dwellings, and
require medical monitoring of workers entering fields sprayed by AZM.
“It is outrageous that EPA allowed continued use of this pesticide
knowing that it would expose farmworkers to unacceptable risks of pesticide
poisonings,” said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice.
“Since growers have already had four years to shift to other pest
controls, there is no reason to subject workers and their communities
to more poisonings for another four years.”
AZM is used primarily to kill insects on orchard crops such as apples,
cherries, pears, preaches and nectarines. The highest uses occur in
Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey
pesticide has put thousands of workers at risk of serious illness every
year,” said Erik Nicholson of the United Farmworkers of America.
“The phase out is welcome, although it should have come years
Take Action: Let EPA know that the timeline
for phase out of AZM is unacceptable. AZM poses an unacceptable risks
to workers and since growers have already had four years to shift to
other pest controls, there is no reason to subject workers and their
communities to more poisonings for another four years. All uses should
be phased out immediately. Send an email to EPA Administrator Stephen
L. Johnson at Johnson.Stephen@epa.gov.