Pesticides are Poison! Email the EPA Chief

posted February 19, 2009

poison2This is a re-post from the United Farm Workers. Pesticides are Poison.  Click on the link at the end of the post to send an email to the EPA.

Agricultural company wreaks havoc. Tell new EPA chief to protect us from pesticide abusers.

N.J. fines Florida-based tomato grower one million dollars for misuse of pesticides

tomatosaction2Calling the violations “the most serious…ever uncovered,” the state Department of Environmental Protection fined a Florida tomato growing company nearly $1 million for improperly using pesticides on 17 fields it operates in New Jersey, putting workers and consumers alike in jeopardy.

Ag-Mart Produce Inc., which has an office in Cedarville, Cumberland County, is already facing fines and charges of pesticide misuse in North Carolina, where female employees claim their babies were born with serious defects…

–The Star Ledger, 1/29/08

According to news reports, New Jersey’s state Department of Environmental Protection cited Ag-Mart for hundreds of violations, claiming Ag-Mart denied state investigators access to facilities, applied pesticides to tomatoes more frequently than permitted and on 17 occasions harvested and shipped pesticide-sprayed tomatoes before they were safe for public consumption.

The state also charged Ag-Mart with careless record-keeping, failing to properly ventilate areas during pesticide use, failing to post pesticide-safety information for workers, using forbidden mixtures of pesticides and losing track of a 2.5-gallon container of toxic insecticide. The fines linked to the violations total $931,250.

In a statement put out by the NJ Department of Pesticides, Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello said, “Ag-Mart has repeatedly shown a stunning disregard of laws and regulations intended to protect the workers who harvest their tomatoes, the people who consume them and New Jersey’s environment. Ag-Mart’s pesticide violations are the most serious DEP inspectors have ever uncovered. We have imposed a record-high penalty not only to hold Ag-Mart accountable for their failure, but to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

It’s great that New Jersey took action. But more needs to be done on a national level. We need the federal EPA to protect us from big companies like Ag-Mart who deal on a national scale and have repeat violations.

President Obama has just appointed a new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who also hails from New Jersey. In a January 23 memo to her new EPA staff, Jackson said, “It is clear that we are not doing an adequate job of assessing and managing the risks of chemicals in consumer products, the workplace and the environment. It is now time to revise and strengthen EPA’s chemicals management and risk assessment programs.”

This is an admirable goal. Please e-mail EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and tell her we look forward to seeing it put into action. The time for change is now. Her office carries the huge task of protecting the American people-consumers and farm workers alike-and we need the EPA to ensure situations such as happened with Ag-Mart do not occur again.