Prepare for Pesticide Spray Season - Part VII: Pesticides and Your Emotions

| 8/8/2013 10:46:00 AM

“A subsequent investigation revealed that a poisonous cloud of a soil fumigant called metam sodium, a known carcinogen as well as reproductive and developmental toxicant, had volatilized more quickly than anticipated from an agricultural field one quarter of a mile away, drifted into the town, and poisoned the residents. Victims were left with fear, lingering illnesses, and medical bills they could not afford to pay.” Pesticide Drift and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice, by Jill Lindsey Harrison, p. 4.

Although the above quote refers to an incident that happened in California several years ago, If you become aware that pesticide has drifted onto your land - or been sprayed on you directly - you will experience a huge range of emotions from anger to fear to outrage to indignation, much like these California residents.

crop dusterI would like to share with you words from victims of spray drift who have contacted Spray Drift Education Network to tell us their stories. If you experience any of these emotions during or after a pesticide spray drift incident, please remember You are not alone.

Second Guessing – Who To Believe

“When we called Kraft Fertilizer to talk about the application that was done the night before, Eric laughed and explained confidently the chemicals that were sprayed could have been sprayed right over our greenhouse and it wouldn’t harm a thing. It was a well rehearsed performance – one he probably repeated almost daily during the spray season.  Obviously he didn’t know who he was talking to – an organic farmer who knew that was wrong with one successful IDOA misuse complaint under her belt. How many concerned people had called him asking if the chemicals blowing in the wind could harm them, their families, children or pets? How many times had he told the voice on the other end of the phone there was nothing to worry about?”

Reluctance or Feelings of Guilt to File an Official Complaint

Despite repeatedly talking to both the farmer and FS in order to prevent any drift on their property, one Illinois couple finally decided to file an official complaint with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Feelings of guilt, fear of community retaliation and inevitable bad feelings with family members were all deterrents to filing the first complaint. But after 4 successful misuse complaints and an insurance claim for crops lost, this Illinois couple knows they did the right thing with that first complaint and will continue filing official complaints when drift is suspected. “Filing the first complaint confirmed what we suspected all along. The applicators do not like visits from the IDOA and will alter their behavior if they think a complaint will be filed against them.”

Feeling Like the Bad Guy

As one couple points out: “Rain is coming and the spray rig is ready to apply herbicide to the growing crop. But the wind is blowing towards your property. You muster up enough courage to ask the farmer or the applicator if the application can be delayed to avoid any possible drift on your property. The reply is the same old story – “the canopy is closing;” we have to spray before it rains;” “we’ll keep the booms low;” we’re using anti-drift additive and nothing will move.” THEY MUST SPRAY! Who are you to stand in the way of their application?  ho are you to possibly cause financial loss if the crop doesn’t get sprayed? You feel like the ‘bad guy’ standing in the way of what happens every day during spray season – pesticide applications being done in conditions that favor drift because they have to get it done.

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