When we first published our report Justice in the Fields and accompanying fact sheet Who Grew Your Food last fall, we urged consumers to look for strong certification labels or union labels, but also to support advocacy campaigns.
A bill was just introduced into Congress that is exactly the kind of advocacy campaign that can have an impact on large numbers of farmworkers, whether they work on certified and/or unionized farms or not.
The bill, introduced in the Senate, would ban chlorpyrifos, a potent neurotoxin known to cause reduced IQ, loss of memory, and attention deficit disorders, especially in children whose brains are still developing. Chlorpyrifos is often sprayed and can drift far beyond its target area and has been found in drinking water and in the air around schools, in addition to being associated with acute pesticide poisonings of workers directly on farms.
Corn, soybeans, oranges, apples, strawberries, broccoli, and other common crops are all sprayed with chlorpyrifos. Although chlorpyrifos puts farmworkers, children of agricultural workers, and rural communities at highest risk, many of these crops carry residues at dangerous levels, putting consumers at risk as well. Many of these crops are also exported to other countries where they put consumers in other countries at risk as well.
The EPA has all of the information it needs to ban the pesticide and was scheduled to rule on a ban months ago, but is stalling. That is why a group of senators led by Tom Udall of New Mexico have introduced a bill to ban it. This bill may be the best chance of banning this toxic pesticide once and for all, benefiting agricultural workers, children in farming communities, and consumers in the U.S. and beyond.