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Daily News Blog

21
Nov

City of South Miami Becomes First Organic Community in Florida

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2019) The City of South Miami last month became the first organic community in the state of Florida, passing a landmark ordinance limiting hazardous pesticide use on public property in favor of safer practices. An increasing number of communities in the state have begun to restrict the use of toxic pesticides, with North Miami passing an Integrated Pest Management plan last year, and Miami, Stuart, and Key West banning glyphosate.

South Miami, under the direction of Mayor Phillip Stoddard, PhD, professor of Biological Science at Florida International University, has a history of leading the state in the protection of public health and the environment. In 2014, the City Commission voted to declare all of South Miami a wildlife sanctuary, thereby restricting the use of highly toxic mosquito adulticides. The move protected populations of the state’s rare and endemic wildlife, such as the Florida bonneted bat, which begins to feed on mosquitoes in the spring at the same time spraying usually begins.

The City’s move toward organic landscaping was borne out of two years of successful trials by city workers and contractors. In 2017, its landscaping request for proposals (RFP) required that, in addition to practices intended to reduce pesticide use, only certified organic or minimum risk products could be used on city property.

As the memorandum for the ordinance reads, “Thus-far this initiative has been a qualified success, allowing the City to cut down on its waste-footprint significantly at relatively little expense, and providing a model for other local government to use as guidance.”

The ordinance defines allowable materials based on criteria similar to policies enacted in Montgomery County, MD, and Portland and South Portland, ME. Certified organic and minimum risk pesticidal products represent the least-toxic yet still effective tools that land managers may use within a safer, sustainable approach that considers natural systems and processes. Importantly, the ordinance indicates that these products are not to be used as a first resort by City staff and contractors. This approach emphasizes the importance of building healthy soils as a means of fostering plant resilience to pest and weed pressures. And when management needs do arise, this approach prioritizes cultural, mechanical, structural/habitat manipulation, and biological controls prior to the use of even the less toxic materials.

The success and codification of South Miami as an organic community sends an important message to other local governments in the U.S. South, Florida, and other humid and subtropical regions: landscapes can be adequately managed without the use of toxic pesticides, and, as South Miami’s experience indicates, at relatively little expense.

An increasing number of communities understand that rampant pesticide use is connected to insect, pollinator, and bird declines. That pesticides result in widespread water contamination,  disproportionately impact vulnerable populations like children and pregnant mothers, and are associated with cancer and other diseases that are all too common in today’s world.

Yet, cost is often an impediment. Not because costs increase significantly, as community after community that has transitioned to organic practices has found they do not. But because of fear-mongering by the pesticide industry, which tells community leaders looking to move toward safer practices that their expenses will skyrocket without access to cheap chemicals, that they will need to tear up their fields every year, that people will slip and fall on weeds, and that proponents of reform are simply too emotional to look at the financial impact.

Communities confronting these false industry-fueled arguments would be well-served by looking to experiences like South Miami’s, which is aiming to be a model for other local governments to move in this direction. If you’re interested in getting hazardous pesticides out of your City, town or state in favor of safer practices, contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or [email protected] for scientific resources and information to make your case.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: South Miami City Commission

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  • Archives

  • Categories

    • ALS (2)
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    • Antibiotic Resistance (11)
    • Aquaculture (23)
    • Aquatic Organisms (9)
    • Beneficials (30)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (15)
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    • Health care (32)
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    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (59)
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