Read This Book on Pesticide Spray

| 11/19/2013 9:47:00 AM

                Without a doubt, pesticide illness constitutes one of the most widespread environmental problems today. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that one to five million pesticide poisonings occur every year worldwide, and twenty thousand of those are fatal. What makes these statistics especially chilling is the fact that they represent only the tip of the iceberg, since they do not account for pesticide-related, delayed-onset diseases, nor the fact that most pesticide exposures are neither recognized, treated, nor reported.

                                Jill Lindsey Harrison, “Pesticide Drift and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice”

book coverJill Lindsey Harrison has written a book on pesticide drift I am strongly encouraging you to read. “Pesticide Drift and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice” (The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA), focuses on the State of California but has many researched truths applicable for each of us no matter where we live. Harrison is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and this is the sixth book in the Food, Health, and Environment series. I have quoted from Harrison’s book in previous blogs. She is a thorough writer raising deep issues.

Harrison focuses on the many low-income people who work on thousands of acres of sprayed fields in California and live right next to them. Even though this huge group of field workers has been replaced with huge machines here in Illinois and other industrial-agricultural states, we still face the same problems as Harrison addresses in her book: “pesticide exposures “that are neither recognized, treated, nor reported.” She goes on to say, “Pesticide drift is the airborne movement of agricultural pesticides into residential areas, schools, and other spaces and is now a key target of activists’ anger, because the wayward movement of pesticides, often far from where they are applied, reveals just how pervasive and under-recognized pesticide exposures actually are.”

It is disheartening to hear that California has been the most pro-active state on pesticide exposure with “the largest pesticide regulatory apparatus in the nation,” and yet is STILL the place where “large-scale pesticide drift incidents have occurred with disturbing regularity in recent years, frightening and sickening thousands of people near agricultural fields.”

What are the reasons for this? Harrison explains that in California, much like here in Illinois and in your state, too, “Regulatory officials emphasize that these incidents are relatively few in number and assert that they are generally caused by application error.” At Spray Drift Education Network, we realize this is just not so. We know, as Harrison points out, “that all resident living near agricultural fields are at risk of exposure to pesticide drift.” Yes, even the residents in my little town of Paw Paw are at risk including the students at both the elementary and high schools. Both schools are bordered by conventionally farmed fields that are routinely sprayed during the growing season.

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