Ban Chlorpyrifos Coalition: Reflections from DSA-Fresno’s participation

Ecosocialism project-Fresno coalition with CAPS/CPR

Ban chlorpyrifos, a harmful pesticide used on ag crops   (see list of studies at end)

by Maya Flores

List of Contents:

  1. Intro / 2. Background on Chlorpyrifos / 3. Current Compliance / 4. Previous Bans / 5. on CAPS the OG non-profit org/6. Final thoughts and pic of cute socialist cat!
  2. INTRO:

4 of us with DSA-Fresno organizing committee meet regarding the potential permanent ban on Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide that is sprayed in central valley fruit crops and often directly impacts the health and longevity of fieldworkers in the central valley, many who are low-income immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America. There are many studies that have found it to be very harmful, see list at end of this doc for a mere tip of the iceberg of scientific studies! CHAMACOS study is the longest running study, done by UC Berkeley, and has found that chlorpyrifos is harmful.

  • Brief Background On the Harmful Organophosphate, Chlorpyrifos:

 Chlorpyrifos has been proved to cause neurocognitive deficits, especially in children and the unborn, even when farmers use the pesticide according to guidelines. Exposure to Chlorpyrifos has been linked to statistically higher rates of respiratory issues, nausea, skin and eye irritation, and neurocognitive problems such as increased rates of adhd, lowered IQ, and even autism-like symptoms, with children, babies, and the unborn being the most vulnerable to illnesses (*important: please read the note on autism link below). [citation: every single study at the end of this doc]

            *Regarding link to autism: Due to current anti-vaxxer ignorance, I want to be very clear on the difference between a pesticide being “the cause of autism” and being “linked to higher rates of autism”; the latter is acknowledged as being certain. There are no credible scientists I could find searching google scholar who will state that there is one, specific cause for autism, so we are avoiding the words “the cause” and following the lead of published scientists who use this phrase: “linked to higher rates of autism.” This phrasing does not state causation and it also does not state that there is a singular, specific cause for autism. It does, however, relay the fact that exposure to pesticides leads to an affected community with significantly higher rates of autism and/or autism-like symptoms than non-exposed populations. This raises a red flag in terms of potential hazards to human health and should be immediately researched further to eliminate the possibility that the increased rates of autism documented by scientists may be directly or indirectly caused by this pesticide. However, we do not know enough to use the words “causes autism.” Please use the phrase “linked to increased rates of autism-like symptoms” and avoid the word “causes”. This can prevent opponents from attempting to discredit us through our semantics. We encourage others to read academic studies regarding the link to autism and to share any titles and articles that can expand our understanding with everyone in the ecosoc working group on Slack.

3. On Current Compliance Regarding Use of Chlorpyrifos

The pesticide Chlorpyrifos was banned for household use due to neurotoxicity back in the year 2000, but the ag industry continues to use it on their crops in large amounts, and, frequently, the recommended usage guidelines are not adhered to, according to a survey on California fieldworkers; 41.1% of CA fieldworkers were not told when pesticides were being sprayed and 41.3% of fieldworkers were not provided with signs declaring that an area had been sprayed and when it would be safe to enter that area again. 57% of farmworkers were given any kind of pesticide safety training, leaving 43% of the farmworkers with zero knowledge of pesticide safety procedures (see: Arcury TA, Quandt SA, Austin CK, Preisser J, Cabrera LF. Implementationof EPA’s Worker Protection Standard Training for agricultural laborers: an evaluation using North Carolina data. Public Health Rep. 1999;114:459-68)

  • On Previously Scheduled Perma-Ban and Trump’s Overturning of that Decision

During the last year of the Obama admin, the gov ruled to permanently ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, to be eliminated completely in 2019. As soon as Trump took office, he overturned that and chlorpyrifos is still in use. Here is a link to a PBS Newshour video on youtube regarding the original slated ban and trump’s reversal:

  • On the OG’s of the Perma-Ban Movement: CAPS et al.

I am in communication with the Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety (CAPS) based in the Tulare/Exeter area. They have been on this issue for years now and have provided a great amount of information and opportunities to support the perma-ban. They have done great work for many years to protect fieldworkers from pesticide-related illnesses. Our aim as DSA is to provide additional support to their movement and to educate Fresno on the issues our fieldworkers face and how to support fieldworker safety by perma-banning chlorpyrifos. We can best support the movement by following CAPS’ lead and rallying our own city of Fresno to engage in the dialogue as well.

UPDATES: 12.16.18

Earlier this year, I traveled with CAPS to Sacramento to meet with reps for legislatures and to speak with reps from the EPA to request that they ban or suspend chlorpyrifos immediately. The EPA later scheduled a public hearing event for discussing the possibility of banning chlorpyrifos.

In November, I (Maya) traveled to Sacramento to the EPA building for a public hearing regarding a potential ban of chlorpyrifos with CAPS to speak at a public hearing. I was chosen as one of 3 from the central valley and 1 of 9 for the extended area of CA that also included members of CPR (Californians for Pesticide Reform). I spoke about the  CHAMACOS longitudinal study by UC Berkeley and I am still making a video compilation of speakers to share. After the last speaker with our group went, we did a direct action where people unfurled a large banner in the middle of the public hearing, chanted no mas chlorpyrifos! (no more chlorpyrifos), held up mini protest signs, and marched out of the public hearing chanting. They escorted us out of the building and the police were called (we were non-violent, fyi). Days later, the EPA announced they’d add “more recommendations” to the pesticide, despite knowing full well that several studies showed farmers rarely follow the bare minimum steps listed on the pesticide already, and the likelihood that they would enact additional steps is highly unlikely.

These actions were organized by CAPS and CPR, and I was the one rep of DSA, although there are 3 other DSA-Fresno people who came to meetings and gave great ideas and resources, I was the only one available to travel those dates. We support and boost the message of CAPS whenever we can! They do great work and they just opened up an office in the central valley!

Videos of the November trip to Sacramento to speak on the ban with protest:

Link to Part I of public comments given by activists:

Link to Part II of public comments given by activists and start of our protest:

Community members came to sac from all over today #banchlorpyrifos

Posted by Californians for Pesticide Reform on Thursday, November 8, 2018

(Protest inside the pubic hearing room starts around the 38 minute mark)

Video I took of my 2 minute comments (can also be found at the  26 minute mark in Part II of public comments, but my voice is inaudible)

Thisis an ongoing project and I had to take a step back to work on caravan action, but we will begin actions again in January.

Link to new Nov 2018 article after the public comments, “Study: Dow-funded Chlorpyrifos Research Omitted Results, Leading to Inaccurate Conclusion of Pesticide’s Safety:  ‘Misleading’ Findings Impaired EPA’s Ability to Assess Pesticide’s Harms”

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