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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.