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Daily News Blog

10
Jul

Take Action: Pro-Pesticide Lobby Attacks Local Democratic Process to Protect Health and Environment

Pesticide-free sign with a ladybug

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2023) [Editor’s note to readers: The local, democratic decision-making process to adopt restrictions on pesticide use, now under attack in Congress, has historically been critical to the protection of health and the environment when federal and state governments have failed in their responsibility. This local democratic right has not only protected communities where action is taken, but it has driven state and federal policy to do better—to do what is required in a society that cares about a sustainable future.

While federal and state pesticide policy sets a floor on minimum protections and rights, there is nothing more important than nurturing the local democratic process to increase and strengthen protections that elude government agencies that are unduly influenced by the powerful chemical industry. As we face existential crises of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency resulting from gridlock in legislative bodies that ignore the scientific facts documenting harm and solutions that are within our grasp, there is nothing more important than empowering local communities to embrace meaningful changes that eliminate pesticides and adopt organic land management practices. These changes embrace nature and ecosystem services.

While the federal regulatory process is skewed toward assumptions of the benefits of toxic chemicals, local communities are able to address problems holistically by asking simple questions like: “Do we need to use toxic chemicals to manage lawns and landscapes, parks and playing fields?”; “Do we have to allow pollinators and waterways to be poisoned to manage land in our community?”; Do we have to expose our children and those with preexisting health conditions to toxic chemicals to achieve our land management goals?; “Why are we being told that the risks are acceptable when the chemicals have not even been regulated for damage to the endocrine system (affecting all organ systems in the body) or for chemical mixtures and synergistic effects with other chemicals, or for impacts on those with neurological, immunological, and reproductive diseases and cancer?; And, most importantly–a question not asked by regulators– “Are there solutions that do not rely on toxic chemicals?” These are the questions being asked in local communities nationwide, questions that are critical to health and safety.

Because of the critical value of local authority to restrict pesticides, we again urge the widest possible outpouring of voices in the halls of Congress to stop the chemical industry from shutting down the local democratic process in our communities to stop the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers. Public communication with members of Congress is essential if we are to stop the pro-pesticide lobby from pushing on communities its toxic products. Urge your networks and your elected officials, and your local government officials to take action by using the links below. These are the questions that communities have a right to ask, then answer, and then act on.]

Part 1: Tell your local officials to sign onto a letter opposing the preemption language | Part 2: Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to support communities by opposing anti-democratic preemption language in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Amendments to the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the attack on local authority to restrict pesticides have now taken shape with the introduction of the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R.4288) in the U.S. House of Representatives. With the pro-pesticide industry advocating for the preemption (or prohibition) of local authority to restrict pesticide use, the battle is focused on these amendments, or a similar attack on local authority, becoming a part of the Farm Bill. Members of Congress are now negotiating on this. However, local democratic authority to restrict pesticides in communities are not negotiable, advocates say.

Any change to local or state authority to restrict pesticides will overturn decades of Supreme Court precedent. Environmental groups and consumer protection advocates have long fought off provisions like those in the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act, which seeks to prohibit improved protections from inadequately regulated toxic pesticides. Among the many deficiencies in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review of pesticides is its failure to fully evaluate for endocrine disruption, according to the Office of Inspector General. This bill will hinder state governments from tailoring laws to address the specific needs and concerns of their communities.

While the bill’s language appears to focus on labeling, it actually prohibits any locality or state from imposing restrictions that are more restrictive than the federal labeling on a pesticide product. The bill states that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) will require the “uniformity in national pesticide labeling, and prohibit any State, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or a court from directly or indirectly imposing or continuing in effect any requirement. . .different from the labeling or packaging approved by the Administrator. . .” In other words, if a community restricts pesticide use near sensitive areas, like waterways, or seeks to protect children, or those with preexisting health conditions, that action would constitute a restriction different, albeit more protective, from the label. 

For more background on the effect of the legislative language, please see Pesticide Lobby Pushes Farm Bill Amendment to Strip Localities and States from Restricting Pesticides.

Part 1: Tell your local officials to sign onto a letter opposing the preemption language | Part 2: Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to support communities by opposing anti-democratic preemption language in the 2023 Farm Bill.

The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. The Court specifically upheld the authority of local governments to restrict pesticides throughout their jurisdictions under federal pesticide law. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier,  the Court ruled that federal pesticide law does not prohibit, or preempt, local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government throughout their jurisdiction. According to Mortier, however, states do retain authority to take away local control. In response to the Supreme Court decision, the pesticide lobby immediately formed a coalition, called the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and passing, in most cases, preemption legislation that was often identical to the Coalition’s wording. 

Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to prohibit localities from developing policies reflecting the unique needs and values of the people living there. In states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides, an ever-increasing number of communities are stepping up to protect their residents and unique local environment from pesticide poisoning and contamination. Having failed to curtail local action and with a growing number of communities deciding to act, the chemical industry is flexing its muscle with an attack in Congress. 

States and localities must retain the ability to inform their residents about product risks, including pesticides like glyphosate. Environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, are urging the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to draft a Farm Bill that does not undermine (i.e., preempt) the authority of local communities that are striving to safeguard public health and the environment. 

Part 1: Tell your local officials to sign onto a letter opposing the preemption language | Part 2: Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to support communities by opposing anti-democratic preemption language in the 2023 Farm Bill.

The targets for this Action are the U.S. Congress and local elected officials across the United States. 

Thank you for your active participation and engagement!

Share

6 Responses to “Take Action: Pro-Pesticide Lobby Attacks Local Democratic Process to Protect Health and Environment”

  1. 1
    Darla Says:

    Stop selling pesticides!!!

  2. 2
    Darla Says:

    Help our endangered butterflies. Stop selling pesticides!!

  3. 3
    priscilla martinez Says:

    We need to take better care of what is left of our environment, for wildlife, marine life, plant life and people.

  4. 4
    Eric P Wollscheid Says:

    To my local officials:

    Sign onto a letter opposing the preemption language.

    To my congressman and senators:

    Support communities by opposing anti-democratic preemption language in the 2023 Farm Bill.

  5. 5
    Sonia Romero Villanueva Says:

    The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades, reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. The Court specifically upheld the authority of local governments to restrict pesticides throughout their jurisdictions under federal pesticide law. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier,  the Court ruled that federal pesticide law does not prohibit, or preempt, local jurisdictions from restricting the use of pesticides more stringently than the federal government throughout their jurisdiction. According to Mortier, however, states do retain authority to take away local control. In response to the Supreme Court decision, the pesticide lobby immediately formed a coalition, called the Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy, and developed boilerplate legislative language that restricts local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The Coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking and passing, in most cases, preemption legislation that was often identical to the Coalition’s wording.

  6. 6
    Marcelo Says:

    STOP SELLING AND CONSUME PESTICIDES¡¡¡¡

Leave a Reply

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