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Daily News Blog

18
Jan

We Honor Martin Luther King Today

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today on Martin Luther King Daya day of national service with volunteer opportunities across the nation. During this day of reflection, consider reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” or listening to it here.

At Beyond Pesticides, our vision and work aligns with the vision Dr. King expressed“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To that end, we seek to eliminate disproportionate risk, with elevated toxic hazards to people of color communities, with higher rates of pesticide-induced diseases among those who live in fenceline communities where chemicals are produced, among farmworkers who harvest the nation’s food, and among landscapers who manage our parks and children’s playing fields. We seek to transform national laws that allow risks under risk assessments that institutionalize environmental racism by allowing for this disproportionate risk. We seek to eliminate toxic pesticides production and use through the adoption of organic land management. To that end, we work with communities across the country to transition their land management to organic practices and we advance organic standards under the Organic Foods Production Act that have integrity and are fully enforced.

Eliminating Toxic Pesticides with Organic Transformation

Beyond Pesticides’ program reflects the thinking that this is not a time to tinker with reforms, thus the call for foundational change to policy and practice. The fact that racial disparities are integral to the way we regulate the production, transportation, use, and disposal of toxic pesticides and other chemicals means the toxic pesticide industry is unsustainable. The standards in the governing laws are fundamentally flawed, resulting in unnecessary use and unacceptable disease outcomes that are high generally, but even greater for people of color. Systemic change does not occur with improved “mitigation measures” that EPA manipulates unscientifically or the banning of some chemicals or some uses. Our strategy only calls out individual chemicals and their effects—like the herbicide dicamba causing crop damage and Roundup (glyphosate) causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma or neonicotinoid insecticides indiscriminately killing pollinators—as indicative of a failed statutory and regulatory system, not just bad actor chemicals.

Advancing Systemic Change

Our work to advance systemic change seeks to identify underlying policies that codify dispropor­tionate harm, such as federal pesticide law that is built on a foundation that allows elevated and disproportionate risk to workers. They are excluded from EPA’s cumulative risk assessment (under the Food Quality Protection Act amendments to the Fed­eral Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), which aggregates dietary and non-dietary, but explicitly not occupational, exposure to pesticides, while in­cluding a mandate to protect children. With this, the law effectively requires EPA to allow higher rates of harm for workers, particularly farmworkers, land­scapers (workers who are disproportionately people of color), and others occupationally exposed to pes­ticides. In response, Beyond Pesticides is reimagin­ing legislative proposals that effect a transformation to an organic society that eliminates toxic pesticides, respects the complexity of life and the ecosystems that sustain us, and put an end to institutional biases that codify environmental racism. The time for systemic change is now.

Call for Park Pesticide Ban Cites Environmental Racism

Beyond Pesticides is working with grassroots groups across the nation to ban toxic pesticides in city, town, and county parks, playgrounds, and playing fields, as part of an organic transition. We work with groups, like The Black Institute and other grassroots organi­zations, and elected officials to replace toxic pesticides with organic land management practices, recognizing that children and people of color face dispro­portionate harm from pesticide exposure. To make matters worse, the hazards associated with the toxic chemicals inflict multi-generational diseases like diabetes, asthma and respiratory illness, and learning disabilities.

We join New York City Council Members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera in supporting organic parks legislation, citing in our press conference and testimony the wide use of the weed killer Roundup by city agencies—“The use of this pesticide poses a health risk for anyone who frequents city parks and playgrounds, as well as city workers, including city parks employees who come into contact with glyphosate containing chemicals while spraying.”

Disproportionate Harm from Coronavirus

As the coronavirus hit, the nation quickly saw dis­parities in who is at highest risk of infection, not just in age groups, but along racial lines. In every state, we see that people of color suffer higher rates of infection, illness, and death than their percentage of the population. Reporting recognized that this is occurring because those with the highest disease and death rates are disproportionately “essential workers,” delivering essential services with daily exposure to the virus. They are among the lowest income workers in society and, as a result, have medi­cal comorbidities that elevate risk factors, and are most likely to have limited, if any, health insurance. For millions of people outside the black and brown community, this has raised a heightened awareness of societal inequities related to race—bringing Into focus the disproportionate effect that pesticide expo­sure has by elevating risk factors for Covid-19.

Beyond Pesticides Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter (June 2020)

In demanding a future that transforms society to ensure equality of opportunity and respect for life, we support the leadership of Black Lives Matter in advancing systemic and institutional change in how we value each other. As an environmental and public health organization, Beyond Pesticides seeks to ensure that we put a stop to disproportionate harm to people of color because of racism and inequality. We strive for a sustainable world that, in a true sense, can only be achieved with foundational change to our social, economic, and environmental norms. In this context, we stand with those demanding an end to systemic racism, white supremacy, and violence in society, and call for a social structure and law enforcement system that honors this goal.

As Martin Luther King said in his speech, “Where Do We Go From Here?,” to the Annual SCLC Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Autust, 16, 1967: “[W]e must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”

 

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  • Archives

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