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Organizing for Environmental Justice

Teams from Beyond Toxics and the NAACP Eugene/Springfield came together in 2018 to start the process of organizing an Environmental Justice Pathways (EJP) Summit. The agenda we had prepared was jam packed with amazing speakers from throughout the state of Oregon and abroad. 

Farmworkers deserve better pesticide rules

More than 1 billion pounds of poisonous pesticides are applied on farms annually in the United States, resulting in as many as 20,000 physician-diagnosed poisonings annually among agricultural workers. University of Oregon environmental studies scholar Sarah Wald puts the number of farmworkers exposed to toxic levels of pesticides closer to 300,000, more than 10 times the official number.

Oregon Farm Workers Are Fighting for Their Lives

I remember, and you might too, feeling virtuous when my family took part in the California grape boycott in the 1970s. I was only a teenager, but to me it meant that I was standing in solidarity with farm workers. I felt a bond, although I’d never met a farm worker as far as I knew.

My small action, combined with the similar ethical choices of millions of others, helped farm workers position themselves to win. And what did they win? What they asked for were basic human rights: safer working conditions, less pesticide exposure, habitable housing and better wages.

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Farm Worker Rights in the Age of Trump

Oregon has over 300 registered farm worker housing camps and another 200 unregistered camps. Most of these camps are located within orchards and fields that are regularly sprayed with pesticides that are human carcinogens and neurotoxins. To protect farm workers, the federal law requires a minimum 100-ft. no-spray buffer around farm worker housing. You may be surprised and dismayed to learn that Oregon’s worker protection agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), wants to give Oregon farmers “a pass” on following the 100-ft pesticide buffer regulation.

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Beyond Toxics Speaks Truth to Timber's Tall Tales

The Register Guard published a Nov. 30 guest viewpoint written by former Lane County Commissioner, Anna Morrison, who no longer lives in Oregon. Displaying her ignorance, she suggested that aerial pesticide sprays are nothing to worry about.

If Morrison had done her homework about aerial sprays, she could have started with Arizona, her new home state.

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We Need Resilient Forests

Recently, I had lunch in the employee cafeteria of an international corporation based in Lane County. I was somewhat amazed, but pleased, to see efforts to celebrate Farm Worker Appreciation Week. There were large colorful posters of farm workers and glossy brochures.  Their handouts urged the reader to consider how their food is grown, who harvests their food and if workers are treated fairly.

In other words, consumers were being asked to evaluate the ethics of our food system and the impact our choices have on our planet and the people who work in the fields. Why aren’t we demanding the same information about the wood products we buy?

Timber's fallen: Efforts show promise for working conditions in Oregon forestry

This is Part III of a three-part series on the working conditions and treatment of Oregon's immigrant forestry workers.

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BLOG: Helicopter herbicide sprays are poisoning Oregon…is it rigged or is it rogue?

Two years ago, there was little public awareness about the common industrial practice of using helicopters to spray thousands of acres of forests with herbicides. That was before the Cedar Valley spray case in which over forty people reported being sickened by exposure to a chemical soup raining down from an aerial herbicide spray. After all, who could really imagine that Oregon’s timber companies routinely hire helicopter pilots, dozens of hazardous chemical truck drivers and pesticide applicators to carry out a program of blanketing forestlands and streams with toxic chemicals?

It seemed unbelievable, until the public learned more.

Oregon agencies cite multiple pesticide violations and levy fines against helicopter company in a worker whistleblower case

Highly toxics pesticides should not be sprayed on workers, but the Oregon Department of Agriculture concluded that is what Oregon-based Applebee Aviation did to its employees. On September 30, the Department, which is responsible for regulating state and federal pesticide laws, issued a citation revoking the Applebee’s operating license in the state of Oregon and levying a fine of $1100.

Low-wattage legislators dim the lights on forestry practices reform

A year ago the editors of the Register Guard urged Oregon legislators to “shine a light on forest sprays.” Our low-wattage legislators did the opposite. Today aerial forest spraying continues unabated.

Communities sprayed with poisons remain in the dark while chemical lobbyists hold sway in the offices and back rooms of our legislature. The response from Oregon’s Legislature? No change to Oregon’s infamously outdated and weak Forest Practices Act.

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Contact

Lane County Office
120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd.
Suite 280
Eugene, OR 97401

+1 (541) 465-8860

Jackson County Office
312 N. Main St., Suite B
Phoenix, Oregon 97535

+1 (541) 465-8860 ext. 2

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1106
Eugene, OR 97440

Hours
Daily: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

info@beyondtoxics.org

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