(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property. The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority.
With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near watercourses or riparian areas. However, as with most IPM plan, the success of the program will likely rely on strict oversight of executive implementation, as this is often a downfall of ordinances that do not incorporate complete bans or stringent guidelines for allowed products.
Supporters of the resolution have responded to critics concerned over the additional cost and manpower it might require by pointing out the benefits of cutting down on overall pesticide use. According to the Miami Herald, supporters believe that the change will be worthwhile if it can prevent harmful effects often caused by pesticides, including reducing the impact of pesticides on the city’s waterways and canals and limiting human exposure. According to the Herald, “Staff members in every department will be trained on pesticides and alternatives, and the city will hire a consultant to evaluate and execute the plan. Signage will also be placed in areas where the city is currently spraying pesticides and herbicides.”
Passage of the resolution may just be the start for Florida communities, however, as residents from the nearby municipality Biscayne Park have already expressed hopes that their village will consider a similar plan. This news excited Councilwoman Carol Keys, who said, “I hope that the other cities will look to us as an example. This is a small step, but I think it’s really, really important.”
The resolution passed by North Miami is just the second IPM plan to come out of Florida, a state notorious for its lack of pesticide protections. The only other community to pass an IPM program in Florida is Sarasota, whose 2015 resolution has significantly less depth and scope than the one passed by North Miami. As part of a joint project with Organic Consumers Association, Beyond Pesticides developed a Map of U.S. Pesticide Reform Policies to track state and local efforts to eliminate hazardous pesticides from public and private spaces, which can be viewed to determine whether pesticide reforms are taking place in your area.
The map provides the public and local leaders with the names and locations of localities that have passed policies, the type of policy passed, a short description of the scope of the policy, and a link to view the entire text. The current edition of the map includes 18 communities with pesticide-free parks programs, 29 with restrictions to protect pollinators, 66 communities with policies that restrict pesticide use on all publicly owned property, and 24 that extend restrictions to private land. Beyond Pesticides encourages people to review the accuracy of the information on the map, and email to firstname.lastname@example.org with policies that have not been captured on the map. Citizens interested in initiating a pesticide policy in their own community can sign up here for more information.
Local jurisdictions in many states, Florida included, are limited in their ability to regulate pesticides on private property due to state preemption laws. In the wake of a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1991, Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, which ruled that federal pesticide law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)) does not preempt local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government, but also said that states retain the ability to take away local control, the pesticide industry lead an effort to pass state preemption laws that restrict local action on private property. The industry group called the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, developed boilerplate legislative language that was adopted in all but seven states, severely limiting the ability of local jurisdictions to protect the health and safety of their citizens from the harms of toxic pesticides.
Because of these restrictions, the North Miami IPM plan only covers efforts to “eliminate or reduce pesticide applications on city property.” This is a significant difference in the effect of policies implemented by municipalities like South Portland, Maine or Montgomery County, Maryland, where the absence of state preemption allowed local government to address the use of pesticides on private property within their jurisdiction. Both ordinances ban the use of toxic lawn pesticides on private and public land and are exemplary public health measures. While the scope of North Miami’s policy extends beyond lawns, the city is restricted under current state law from passing a measure that restricts pesticide use on private property, like Montgomery County and South Portland.
In the wake of a rollback in federal protections under the Trump administration, it is critical that local governments have the authority to protect residents within their jurisdiction from pesticides that move through the community, contaminating air, water, and land. If you want to get active in your community to stop unnecessary toxic pesticide use, sign this petition and Beyond Pesticides will send you a blueprint for local change!
Source: Miami Herald
All unattributed positions are that of Beyond Pesticides.