(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2022) If there is one thing that recent Supreme Court decisions, including West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency et al. (June 30, 2022, No. 20-1530), have shown us, it is that we cannot rely on regulators, courts, and corporations to protect health and the environment and ensure a livable future. Fortunately, at least with respect to our climate and environmental crises, solutions are up and running in many communities, and have been embraced by many institutions and companies. These efforts need our support, and there is much was can do in our communities now, as we advocate for federal and international policies that take the existential environmental crises seriously and with urgency.
We learned in the 1970s that energy crises cannot be solved entirely at the supply end, but require changes in the way we do thingsâ€”by conserving energy. Similarly, our environmental crises today cannot be solved totally by regulation alone, especially given the current political climate. We must advance new and creative approaches.
Organic food production and land management are examples of solutions that are up and running. A regulation like the one adopted by the European Union banning all pesticides in â€śpublic parks or gardens, playgrounds, recreation or sports grounds, public paths, as well as ecologically sensitive areasâ€ť and adopting strategies for achieving the pesticide use- and risk-reduction goals in agriculture may seem out of reach in the U.S. for now. However, we have a foundation to build on, with organic production now a more than $60 billion enterprise in this country at the same time that local communities across the nation are adopting organic land management practices and policies.
With our future in peril, we need to chart a future that embodies a respect for life that is missing in federal regulation. Organic practices not only avoid industrial agricultureâ€™s reliance on fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels, but also help to sequester carbon in the soil. With rising costs of fossil fuels, the economic advantage of organic management increasing.
Letter to mayor or county executive:
A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems in humans, even at low levels. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure because they (1) take up more pesticides (relative to their body weight) than do adults, and (2) have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable to pesticide impacts and less able to detoxify harmful chemicals. Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playing fields without the use of toxic pesticides.
With the lack of protections at the federal and state level, please commit to converting care of public lands in our city to organic practices. Organic practices have been proven to be successful and cost-effective. Avoiding use of toxic pesticides is good for public health, particularly in these times when respiratory assaults can increase the threat of Covid-19. Organic practices are also climate-friendly and support biodiversity.
Beyond Pesticides provides in-depth training to assist community land managers in transitioning two public green spaces to organic landscape management through its Parks for a Sustainable Future program (bp-dc.org/sustainable-parks). Please contact Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] to find out how our town can transition to organic land management and make an important contribution to protecting the health of our community and solving the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.