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pesticides

This month, Maine became the second state in the nation to require labels on food that contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The state’s decision is part of a growing, nationwide effort to assert the right of consumers to know what they’re eating. Currently, more than 26 states are considering proposals to require labeling of altered foods, including Hawaiʻi, where Earthjustice is pushing for laws requiring labeling of GE products.

Selena and her father Miguel at the Rayburn House Building in 2013, after meeting with their representative's office.

Last week, I interviewed 18-year-old Selena Zelaya of Mount Dora, Florida. Selena was one of about a dozen farmworker advocates who traveled to D.C. in July to lobby for farmworker protections against harmful pesticides. Selena’s mother and father are farmworkers and from a young age she began advocating on behalf of them and others. She returns to D.C. this week with representatives of Florida and North Carolina to meet with congressional representatives.

Well, this is just a crying shame. After thousands of Kauaʻi residents came to show support for a popular and much-needed ordinance the County Council passed that would regulate pesticide spraying, including on the GMO crops so prevalent on Kauaʻi, you would think Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. would vote in line with his constituents. Not so.

It took the Kauaʻi County Council 19 hours to decide to pass, by a vote of 6–1, a controversial ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides near sensitive areas by companies developing GMO crops, and require them to disclose the chemicals they use and the engineered crops they are growing.

Blueberries.

Finally. Yesterday—Sept. 30—was the last day that the highly toxic pesticide AZM could be used in the United States. This pesticide, originally developed as a nerve gas, has been poisoning people, particularly farmworkers, and insects for decades.

AZM disrupts the nervous system and causes a range of temporarily debilitating responses—splitting headache, nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable sweats, blurry vision, dizziness, unconsciousness—and even such grave long-term effects as paralysis, and death.

This is the second in a two part series on protections for farmworkers from pesticides.

Read part one, Pesticides Taking Toll on Farmworkers, and the accompanying special feature, Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring.

 

Nobody told Reina Lemus de Zelaya that her job as a farmworker was hazardous not only to her health, but to her unborn child.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.